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Bostonians come together to take in the eclipse

People across Boston pressed pause yesterday to watch the solar eclipse cast its shadow over the city. Astronomy-fanatics and complete amateurs alike bonded in a moment of collective awe.

People crowded streets, parks and campuses to catch a glimpse of the eclipse. Outside the path of totality, Boston experienced a 93% partial eclipse.

Students watch the 93% partial eclipse at BU Beach. The next solar eclipse in the United States will be in 2044 and students were eager to experience the rare occurrence. CLARE ONG/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

“How often are we going to see this?” said Mark Pappas, a 67-year-old retiree. “So let’s get out there and appreciate it because next time around, I’ll probably be in a jar or a box.” 

Free eclipse glasses were handed out at eclipse watch parties and local library branches across Boston,  but supplies quickly ran out, forcing a few to get creative. A handful of viewers crafted eclipse-viewing devices out of cardboard boxes, foil and tape. 

Pappas watched the event unfold while grasping the homemade handles of his own eclipse-viewing device, describing the event as “magical.”

The next total solar eclipse is set to arrive in the United States by Aug. 23, 2044, according to CBS. For some, the rarity of the eclipse made it a once-in-a-lifetime event. 

“I’m thankful that I get the chance to actually experience it,” Pappas said. 

The advertisement of multiple eclipse watch parties in Cambridge left David Cochary feeling less “isolated” from his community, as people were out “enjoying it together.” The eclipse served as a bonding experience for many Bostonians. 

Bradley Canalis, a biochemistry tutor at Harvard College, enjoyed watching the community come together for the eclipse experience.  

“It’s always nice to get the community out here and involved in and engaged with STEM,” Canalis said. “This represents a really good opportunity to get people going for the sciences.”

Others agreed. 

“People are constantly occupied with other things in their life, but this is something you cannot miss,” said Magdalena Siwek, a graduate student at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics.  “Getting astronomy into the public eye for a day is a really cool experience.” 

Bryan Chong (CAS ‘25) looks at the eclipse through eclipse glasses. MOLLY POTTER/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

Hours before maximum coverage, people gathered in front of Harvard Science Center Plaza for a watch party open to the public. 

Hosted by the Harvard Center for Astrophysics and the Harvard College Observatory, the watch party featured solar telescopes, protective glasses and LightSound sonification devices for people visually impaired to experience the eclipse with sound. 

The Harvard Law School is usually “insulated” in their own bubble but Christian Williams, who works at a clinic at the Harvard Law School said that suddenly they were all packed together. 

Wiliams said that people were even sharing their eclipse glasses.

Annika Geiersbach, a freshman at Harvard studying astrophysics, went to the Harvard Science Center Plaza to watch the eclipse unfold. 

“I’ve been waiting for this for years,” Geiersbach said. 

Jake Panzer, a sales associate at Hunt’s Photo and Video in Kenmore Square, explained customers have been “non-stop” coming in, purchasing different camera equipment in anticipation for the eclipse.

“It’s really ramped up in the last like five days,” Panzer said. “Everyone’s kind of rushing to get everything last minute.”

Siwek acknowledged that significant events happen in the sciences all the time, but Monday was a “day in the sun” for the astronomy world. 

“It gives everyone a common experience,” Pappas said. “Everyone kind of pulls together.” 

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