Solar eclipse thrills viewers, darkens sun in South Sound
Barry Benson doesn’t usually get Cheerios. He’s a steel-cut-oats-for-breakfast kind of man.
But this week the 70-year-old Tacoman made an exception, because the box looked the right size for an eclipse viewer.
“I Googled it,” he said.
Wielding the empty box of multigrain cereal, he watched the moon shut out most of the sun Monday morning with several thousand others at Pierce College in Lakewood.
The school had about 1,500 eclipse glasses to hand out for the event, but ran out early. Benson snagged a pair, but the former mechanical engineer brought his box, too.
One pair of glasses belonged to 9-year-old Evelyn Luippold, of Tacoma, who sported a T-shirt that read: “Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist.”
“When I first heard we were going to see the solar eclipse, Mommy said we might go to Oregon,” Evelyn said. “... but it was too busy.”
She thought Lakewood was fine though, adding: “I’ll probably never see anything like this again.”
Luippold watched the eclipse with her 6-year-old sister, Cici, and their friend, 5-year-old Ellie Spotts of Lakewood.
“It’s awesome,” Ellie said. “It looks like a mouse eating cheese.”
Nearby, Marsha White-Wofford of Lakewood watched with her six grandchildren. Not all were thrilled that Grandma made them wake up early, but seemed to be enjoying the event.
“Years down the road, you can say: ‘Remember when G-mom made us get up early?’” she told them. “They’ll appreciate it down the road.”
Her 8-year-old grandson, Sazra Niles, munched on a sprinkled cookie as he waited for his turn with the eclipse glasses they were sharing.
“I thought the moon would come down from the top and cover it up,” he said.
And that’s what he saw happen.
He said everyone should figure out when the next eclipse will be, so they don’t miss it.
“I think they should know,” he said.
Pierce College held presentations about the eclipse at its planetarium, the Pierce College Science Dome, and visitors gathered outside to watch it happen.
Chemistry student Ernest Dye was one of about a dozen in his class who volunteered Monday for extra credit.
He worked an outside booth, answering questions next to a diagram of the eclipse. The school expected several thousand people, and he thought at least that many showed up.
“Do you have any glasses?” was the most frequent question, he said. Followed by inquiries about how much of the sun would be eclipsed here, versus in Oregon.
Katie Forhan, 13 of Gig Harbor, said her family had to stay local for the eclipse, even though she’s into science.
“I’ve got volleyball tryouts,” she said.
The teenager hopes to work for NASA one day, and is having her birthday party at the planetarium next month.
“This is a really big thing,” she said as she watched the eclipse, which she figures will be discussed at her party even though the theme is more galaxy/black holes.
“Right now,” she said, “it just looks like a crescent moon, but orange.”
The family got their special glasses five months ago, mother Malin Forhan said.
“It wasn’t an option for us not to go,” she added.