The Eclipse’s Bright Atmosphere

For several minutes around 10:15 a.m. people in San Francisco turned their attention to the skies — and to one another.

Students use protective glasses to view the partial solar eclipse at Buena Vista Horace Mann School, Aug 21, 2017. (Jessica Christian)

Downtown San Francisco’s privately-owned publicly-accessible rooftops were filled to the brim with eclipse-viewers Monday morning, as workers took a break from their emails to catch a peek of the rare astronomical event. As the western end of the city was per usual enveloped in fog, many residents traipsed eastward for a glimpse of the eclipse.

In Civic Center, the California Public Utilities Commission handed out around 5,000 pairs of eclipse glasses to a long line of people, before eventually running out. Rocio Rocha, a San Francisco resident who took the morning off from her job as a personal assistant to view the eclipse, was lucky to get one of the last few pairs. She told Bay City News that she tried to order a pair on Amazon weeks earlier but received a notice that those glasses weren’t safe and that she would get a refund.”I went to Best Buy, they didn’t have them, I went to Toys R’ Us, they didn’t have them,” Rocha said. “I was in line here, and they didn’t have them, but a camera man was very nice and gave these to me.”

The sharing spirit was prevalent, as people passed pairs of glasses to each other. A San Francisco man who asked to go by the moniker “DJ Melvin J” was sharing his glasses with a woman he did not know. He said he had heard that you could make a wish on your first eclipse. “She’s my eclipse wish,” he said, smiling at the woman. “There she is, I thought oh my God! It seems like the fastest wish come true!”

“He’s funny,” the woman said, as she tried to take a photo with her cellphone through the lens of the glasses. She declined to give her name, however, because “I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be at work!”

While San Francisco’s residents briefly vacated their offices for the event, tourists on vacation also took part. Gianpiero and Alessandre Judica were visiting San Francisco from Italy with their seven-year-old son, and decided to stay an extra day to catch the eclipse. “It’s historical, we don’t know how many times in life we’re going to see this,” Gianpero said. But Alessandre was less enthusiastic. “I feel a bad energy, I don’t know why,” she said of the eclipse.

For those who were stuck in the Outer Sunset’s thick fog, in front of a computer, or locked in a closet by bullies like the girl in All Summer in a Day, fear not. Despite what many are saying, this isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Another total eclipse will take place in 2024, though it’ll require a longer commute from San Francisco to see it: this one will travel up through Texas, across the Midwest, and will hit the northernmost edge of the East Coast. 

In the meantime, enjoy the blurry grey skies with slivers of sunlight that have flooded every social media platform.


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