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

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


The Chatter

Is Swimming in the Harbor by 2020 an Impossible Mission? Maybe Not.

New Waterfront Partnership report shows dramatic progress over the past year.

The Chatter

How These Baltimore Startups Are Using Equity Crowdfunding to Raise Money

Pixilated, MoeJoe Brewing, and Arbit are democratizing the investment process.

Home & Living

Flora First Aid

When battling bugs and plant disease, take a holistic approach.

The Chatter

Baltimore High School Students Show Off Coding Skills to Improve City Services

Following a showcase, one student was awarded an internship with the city.

Travel & Outdoors

Mr. Trash Wheel Gets a Secret Society

A secret society fights the tyranny of trash.

The Chatter

Baltimore Suing Fossil Fuel Companies Over Cost of Climate Change

City accuses oil and gas industry of knowingly contributing to sea-level rise and extreme weather events.

Connect With Us

Most Read


And the 2018 Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize Goes To . . .: Winning artist announced during a ceremony at the BMA.

Food Inspection Discussion Ramps Up Following Viral Rat Videos: Community weighs in on procedures to prevent future infestations.

Are Two Flaccos Better Than One?: Joe Flacco's brother, Tom, transfers to Towson University.

The Big Baltimore Playlist: July 2018: The top five local songs you should download right now.

Under Armour’s New YouTube Series Highlights Baltimore’s Basketball Scene: The four-episode series follows the culture within the city courts.