The Chatter

Partial Eclipse, Lots of Clouds, and Total Fun

Maryland Science Center draws 3,000 to eclipse viewing event.

By Ron Cassie | August 21, 2017, 8:21 pm

-Ron Cassie
The Chatter

Partial Eclipse, Lots of Clouds, and Total Fun

Maryland Science Center draws 3,000 to eclipse viewing event.

By Ron Cassie | August 21, 2017, 8:21 pm

-Ron Cassie

Get Baltimore Daily.

Sign up today and you'll get our latest stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

Rider Fulks, wearing a T-shirt that read “Big Dreamer,” patiently awaited a break in the cloud cover atop the Maryland Science Center rooftop Monday afternoon, hoping to glimpse the first eclipse in nearly a century to sweep across the country.

Suddenly, at about 1:15 p.m., the sky broke clear.

The awestruck Parkton 7-year-old, donning safety glasses, tried to describe the rare celestial occurrence to his mother and 5-year-old brother: “It looks like the moon is taking a bite out of the sun,” he said.

The line outside the Science Center began forming a couple of hours before the Inner Harbor institution opened in anticipation of the eclipse, which turned night into day in a stretch of the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina over the course of 90 minutes. In Baltimore, the eclipse wasn’t total, but estimated at 80 percent—though that hardly dimmed enthusiasm for the witnessing the historic alignment.


⇓ Article continues below ⇓

“We sold out all 300 tickets for each of our five rooftop viewing time slots,” said Science Center program manager Samantha Blau. “We expect more 3,000 people overall. It’ll be our busiest day of the year.”

Eclipses actually occur every 18 months or so, but they rarely darken a path that traverses the entire length of the country; instead dropping the moon’s shadow across one of the oceans or some other continent. The next eclipse path across a significant swath of the United States will arrive in 2024 when the shadow of the moon will move from Texas to New England, coming closest to Baltimore—about 300 miles away—somewhere in its swing between Cleveland and Buffalo.

20240408_eclipse_path.jpg#asset:47516

The Science Center passed out special eclipse safety glasses to all those purchasing a timed pass to the rooftop viewing party, which also included a special exhibition on the sun. The Science Center had also ordered small, unused pizza boxes in advance of the event, assisting visitors in making their own pinhole viewing devices. Many families came equipped with their own pinhole devices made from cereal boxes, which seemed to work better for some than others.

“The tin foil got wrinkled on the drive over here,” said one mother, smiling as she shared safety glasses with her 5-year-old daughter. “Apparently, I needed to keep a better eye on the cereal box in the car.”

Dr. Lisa Schocket, ophthalmologist, and associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was on hand as well to remind visitors not to look at the sun without proper precautions—not just during eclipses, but anytime—because of the potential harm to the retina. 

Inside the Maryland Science Center, NASA’s livestream and coverage of the eclipse was screened at the Davis Planetarium.

In 2012, the Science Center partnered with NASA on a then-new permanent exhibition, Life Beyond Earth, which explores the solar system, and beyond, and also proved a popular destination for visitors Monday.

“The really cool thing is that today you don’t need to be an astronomer and you don’t need a telescope to watch something really cool in the sky,” said Blau.

Screen-Shot-2017-08-21-at-8.18.06-PM.png#asset:47518





Meet The Author
Ron Cassie is a senior editor for Baltimore, where he covers the environment, education, medicine, politics, and city life.

You May Also Like


Outside World

Girl Scouts Add New Badges Focused on Science, Tech, Math, and Engineering

New additions include robotics, programming, and mechanical design.

The Chatter

YouthWorks in Baltimore Join in on the Litter Letter Project

Partnered with the Southeast CDC, the Waterfront Partnership creatively cleans up trash in Baltimore.

Arts & Culture

The Book Thing Bounces Back

A Baltimore literary institution gets reborn, thanks to the community.


The Chatter

Bike Share Temporarily Shut Down

Theft, vandalism and maintenance issues force retooling on cusp of one-year anniversary of city program.

Arts & Culture

Watch This Tape

A Remington shop brings video back from the dead.

The Chatter

Look Inside the First 21st Century School Building in Baltimore

Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle School is first project completed as part of $1.1 billion program.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Head for the Hills
Ten nearby mountain getaways where you can unload, unplug, and unwind.

Baby on Board: What to (Actually) Bring New Parents
What our friends brought us the first time around that made all the difference.

Talking Turkey
Otto Turkish Cuisine adds to the dining scene in Federal Hill.

The Secret Life of Bees
Local honey is the bee’s knees.

Fish Out of Water
Minnow’s seafood dazzles in Riverside.