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San Francisco parties at the Exploratorium for solar eclipse

A smiling woman holds orange glasses with one rectangular lens missing.
Miriam Warren outside the Exploratorium in San Francisco for the solar eclipse watch party on Monday, April 8, 2024. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

There was almost no better place to look to the skies and take in the solar eclipse in the Bay Area on Monday than San Francisco's Exploratorium.

Although some chose to gather at other locations, like Oakland's Chabot Space & Science Center or San Francisco State University's student-run observatory, the weather conditions and setting along the Embarcadero's Pier 15 were ideal for viewing the celestial spectacle.

A long line of locals had already gathered by 9:30 a.m., including San Francisco resident Miriam Warren, who lives near Ocean Beach and told The Standard that she checked the forecast before coming to the Exploratorium.

"It'll be fun to see it with everyone, just like when you see a movie. It's an experience when you're in a theater, like watching Harry Potter with all the fans," Warren said. "And then, here I'm with people who are going to be excited about a celestial happening."

Just after 10 a.m., several hundred skygazers, ranging in age from toddlers to seniors, streamed through the open doors at Pier 15, wearing smiles of anticipation and chattering excitedly about the display ahead.

A man in a black Exploratorium staff shirt stands in front of a busy building entrance.
Ken Finn works at the Exploratorium and was over the moon to see crowds gather on Monday. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Ken Finn, a staffer at the Exploratorium, was delighted to see crowds gather on Monday.

"Today is special for me because I see so many people getting interested and curious about natural phenomena," Finn said. "It's something that plagues me all the time. In fact, I sometimes get waylaid on my way to work because of an interesting shadow or a sound. I get excited today to see everyone at the museum, excited to see people so curious and wanting to explore."

In between televised feeds from along the eclipse's path of totality in Texas and Mexico, locals gathered to receive free pairs of solar eclipse viewing glasses and put them to good use by learning safe viewing techniques from Exploratorium educators, in much the same way as last October's partial solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse with the sun partially obscured by the moon, against a dark sky.
Using a pair of eclipse viewing glasses provided to members of the press and a cellphone, The Standard was able to capture a photo of the partial eclipse. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Exploratorium spokesperson Jason Davis said the museum had sold over 10,000 pairs of eclipse sunglasses and had completely sold out by Monday morning after handing out 1,000 free pairs to those who lined up early at the museum.

Alyna Kanae, a speech therapist in San Francisco, enjoyed the view of the eclipse outside the museum.

"I couldn't go to Texas to see the total one," Kanae said. "But thought I would check out a partial one here. It looked kind of like someone took a small nibble out of the sun."

A smiling woman wearing unique sunglasses looks up, with blurred people in the background.
Alyna Kanae, a speech therapist in San Francisco, took in the eclipse from outside the Exploratorium. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

The Exploratorium also offers an app, good for Monday's solar eclipse and the next one, expected Jan. 14, 2029. NASA will also livestream the eclipse on YouTube here.