Partial solar eclipse dims skies across swath of Earth

By Paul Chavez The Associated Press
Tuesday June 11, 2002

LOS ANGELES – The moon slowly passed in front of the sun Monday in a partial eclipse that dimmed skies in the western United States, Mexico, Canada and Asia. 

A howl went up from a crowd of 300 people on the lawn of Griffith Observatory above Hollywood when the eclipse reached its maximum in Los Angeles at 6:22 p.m. PDT. 

“It looks like someone took a bite out of it,” said George Baltakian, 10, of Burbank. 

“The drama that leads up to it is the thing,” said Paul Jose, 51, of Culver City, a construction worker and eclipse aficionado who photographed the event. 

“The temperature changes and the light changes, and I always enjoy it when I can take off my sunglasses. That’s when you know something is happening,” he said. 

In California, where San Diego offered the best view in the United States, the eclipse began about 5:15 p.m. PDT. At its maximum, three-fourths of the sun was eclipsed in San Diego. 

Edgar Moreno, 36, brought his family to Griffith Observatory to celebrate a sort of cosmic birthday. 

“My son was born in 1994 when this eclipse happened and now it’s happening again,” said Moreno. 

“It’s cool,” said his son, Edgar Jr. 

Danielle Ouwendijk, 25, drove from Camarillo with a friend to view the eclipse at the observatory. 

“It’s just something that’s rare,” she said. “It’s not like every day you can see it.” 

The eclipse came during Southern California’s “June gloom” season, but the overcast that pushes ashore daily from the Pacific burned off early in the day and stayed away as the event unfolded. 

“We’ve got great skies,” said John Downs, president of the Oceanside Photo and Telescope Astronomical Society, which drew a small crowd to an eclipse-watching party in Oceanside on the north San Diego County coast. 

“If you knew how rare they were you’d savor every one,” Downs said. 

The Exploratorium used the Internet to show the eclipse to computer users via its Web site. Skies were cloudless around San Francisco Bay. 

Astronomers said viewers in locations to the east and north would see less of the sun blocked. The Eastern Seaboard had no chance of seeing the event because the timing placed it after sunset there.