A Total Eclipse of the Heart: Our Solar Eclipse Experience

This past Tuesday, April 8, 2024, many regions of North America had the opportunity to observe a rare total solar eclipse. Living in Northern California, I expected the partial eclipse just another event on the calendar and not very exciting, but to my surprise, the few minutes of yesterday’s astronomical event brought lots of excitement to myself and family! In this blog, we’ll share some photos and experiences from the eclipse.

Eclipse Views with Zenni. From Left: California (Credit: Aditi Sharma), Texas (Credit: Alyssa Buchanan), Ohio (Credit: Nick Almaleh)

Enjoying the Partial Eclipse

Equipped with ISO-approved solar eclipse glasses from last October 2023, I was prepared to observe the partial eclipse. Although it wasn’t a total eclipse from my location, I was able to see the small curve of the moon pass over the bottom part of the sun to cover about 30-40% of the sun. The clear and sunny weather provided the perfect backdrop for this natural spectacle. It was exciting to know that I was safely viewing the eclipse and experiencing this spectacle alongside thousands of others.

Sharing the Moment

Some of my friends and family members gleaned tips from a previous blog to enjoy the eclipse from their homes. They used creative techniques like the colander and pinhole methods to observe the eclipse indirectly. It was so fun to see photos of their experience casting shadows of the eclipse! Here’s a photo captured by my aunt using the colander method.

Colander Method (Credit: Leemin Chong)

Across the Country

Throughout the day, I saw the experiences of friends and fellow skywatchers across the country over text message and on social media. Colleagues in Texas reported cloudy skies that made eclipse viewing difficult, but not impossible. In New York State, some lucky individuals witnessed a total eclipse showing a time lapse of the sky going dark for a few minutes. Each story added to the collective excitement of the event. Zenni’s Ohio location is also near the path of the total eclipse, and they all had the opportunity to go outside and experience the eclipse together.

Eclipse Viewing with the Zenni Ohio Team (Credit: Nick Almaleh)

What’s Next: Storage or Donation?

The next solar eclipse will be later this year on October 2, 2024. According to NASA, people living in South America will be able to observe an annular solar eclipse, while a partial eclipse will be visible in other parts South America, Antarctica, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, North America.

If you plan on being in these areas in October, be sure to safely store your solar eclipse glasses to prevent scratches or punctures. Be sure to examine your glasses for any damage before each use. If you do not plan on being in these areas later this year, you could either hold onto your glasses for the next 20 years until the next North American eclipse in 2044 or you could consider donating your glasses to a number of donation sites.

Eclipse in Forth Worth, TX (Credit: Rachel Nkollo)

I’m grateful for the opportunity to witness such a remarkable natural phenomenon. Through this, we are reminded of the beauty and wonder of the universe. Whether through simple observation or creative viewing methods, these moments offer a chance to connect with the world around us.

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Catherine Ong

Dr. Catherine Ong, OD, is an optometrist based in the Bay Area, California. She earned her doctorate from UC Berkeley, School of Optometry and currently provides primary and speciality eyecare in a private practice setting. She has a passion for patient education and enjoys reshaping technical concepts into digestable topics for all patients. When she is not seeing patients, you can find her exploring new restaurants, exercising, or trying out new recipes.