Familiar fog foils view of solar eclipse

San Francisco’s famous fog was hardly enough to deter hundreds of city residents from stepping outside Monday morning for a glimpse of a rare solar eclipse.

In The City’s Civic Center, organizers of an event sponsored by the California Public Utilities Commission handed out about 5,000 eclipse glasses before they ran out. At one point around 9:30 a.m., with the 10:15 a.m. peak of the 76 percent eclipse fast approaching, the line stretched down the block, according to the people staffing the booth.

Rocio Rocha, a San Francisco resident who took the morning off from her job as a personal assistant to view the eclipse, was lucky to get one of the last few pairs. She said she had tried to order a pair on Amazon weeks earlier but received a notice that those glasses weren’t safe and that she would get a refund:

“I went to Best Buy, they didn’t have them, I went to Toys R’ Us, they didn’t have them. … I was in line here, and they didn’t have them, but a camera man was very nice and gave these to me.”

Rocha said she had prepared a viewer made out of a cereal box, just in case she couldn’t get glasses.

“I’m very happy,” she said, sitting on the ground and gazing at the sun.

The friendly crowd quickly worked out a solution to the shortage of glasses, with strangers happily sharing theirs, taking turns to gaze at the crescent of the sun.

A San Francisco man who asked to go by the moniker “DJ Melvin J” was sharing his glasses with a woman he did not know.

He said he had heard that you could make a wish on your first eclipse. Smiling at the woman, he said:

“She’s my eclipse wish. … There she is, I thought oh my God! It seems like the fastest wish come true!”

The woman said, as she tried to take a photo with her cellphone through the lens of the glasses:

“He’s funny.”

She declined to give her name, however, because, she said:

“I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be at work!”

While many of those at the Civic Center were San Francisco residents, some had come from farther afield. Gianpiero and Alessandre Judica were visiting San Francisco from Italy with their 7-year-old son and decided to stay an extra day to catch the eclipse.

Gianpiero said he had relatives who had traveled to Portland specifically for the eclipse:

“It’s historical, we don’t know how many times in life we’re going to see this.”

Alessandre was less enthusiastic:

“I feel a bad energy, I don’t know why. … I would never decide to travel just to see this, but I’m in San Francisco, and also for my son it’s important.”

Another couple, Paul and Josie Brewster, had traveled to San Francisco from Los Angeles specifically to see a baseball game and watch the eclipse.

Paul said:

“We were going to go to Oregon but then we saw there’s like a million people there already.”

The couple planned the trip in March, after first hearing about the eclipse last year.

Paul said:

“I was in Mammoth for the super moon and the clerk at the hotel asked me what I was doing for the solar eclipse, and I was like what? … And then I was like, well now I gotta do something!”

The Civic Center event was only one of several planned around San Francisco, with others taking place at the Exploratorium along The Embarcadero and the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.