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Solar eclipse 2012: Hundreds gather at Griffith Observatory

May 20, 2012 |  5:04 pm

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Hundreds of people gathered under cloudless skies at Griffith Observatory on Sunday as enthusiasm rose for the partial solar eclipse.

"It's almost like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said 8-year-old Lander Etcheverry of Simi Valley, who planned to earn an astronomy belt loop for his Cub Scout uniform.

Sunday is the best chance to view such an eclipse here since 1992, and a similar solar eclipse won't be seen until 2071. The eclipse begins after 5:24 p.m. and lasts through 7:42 p.m.


Lander said he had been looking forward to the event all week after learning about it at school and on television.

Sixth-grader Ashley Econamon of Rosemead, who is considering a career in astronomy, said she expected the skies to turn orange and to see a "ring of fire" as the moon obscures the sun's rays. "I can't wait," she said.

The observatory stocked its shelves with hundreds of pairs of special glasses and Solarama devices to protect viewers' eyes, but they sold out Saturday. Many attendees will view the eclipse through dozens of filtered telescopes stationed across the venue's expansive lawn.

Ali Allison, a tax accountant and member of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, was one of the volunteers who brought a telescope. He said he has been captivated by the heavens since attending a show at the observatory as a young boy.

"This one is great because I like astronomical events that don't take place in the middle of the night at 2 or 3. This way, people will actually get the chance to see it."

The trip was long and hot for many people because of limited parking and the nearby Greek Theatre's California Music Festival and AIDS Walk.

Griffith Observatory officials instructed people planning to come up for the eclipse to arrive early.

For the record, 5:55 p.m., May 20: An earlier version of this post said the eclipse ends at 7:24; it ends at 7:42.


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-- Garrett Therolf at Griffith Observatory