Solar eclipse captivates Western Pennsylvanians
Tribune-Review reporters and photographers captured sights and sounds of the solar eclipse from many angles. The eclipse was at its peak in the region about 2:30 p.m. Send us photos of you and yours watching the eclipse on twitter @TribLIVE .
It was all good vibes at the Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where staff said about 700 people came out to watch the eclipse.
"Everyone's so kind, generous, everyone's sharing their glasses," said Louise Mitinger, of Aspinwall.
"Just because it's something we all want to share in," Mitinger added.
She attended the viewing party with her daughter, Emily Torbert, 11, who raided her kitchen for eclipse-viewing supplies. She came prepared with multiple pin hole viewers, a paper plate viewer and a colander.
"It's really exciting to be one of those people who can actually see it," Torbert said.
Eclipse watchers around the park had a variety of viewing devices, and didn't hesitate to share.
Christie Vanorsdale knew she wouldn't be able to track down glasses, so she borrowed her brother's welding mask.
"I've never seen one before so I don't really know what to compare it to," she said.
Rob Williams, of Plum, watched an eclipse back in the 1970s, in Virginia. He was happy to be able to share this event with his daughters, Kendall and Gabrielle, both 11.
"It's one of those things you don't know if you're going to get to see again in your lifetime," he said.
Many people took cover during a brief spurt of rain but the line grew behind the Penn-Trafford astronomy club's telescope. Raleigh Mero, 9, made his mom stay through the rain for a glimpse at the eclipse.
"He loves science," said his mother Amy Mero, while Raleigh stared through his safety glasses. "He was speechless. I'm soaked, he didn't want to leave."
Club members made minor adjustments to the telescope as the sun moves through the sky.
At Delmont's Newhouse Park, more than 200 signed up for the library's eclipse viewing, meaning watchers had to take shifts using about 100 glasses the library obtained through NASA and the Westmoreland County Library Network.
Periodic clouds left the crowd waiting for several stretches before getting to see the partial eclipse.
"This Western Pennsylvania weather ... when you don't want it cloudy for 10 minutes of the day, there it is," said Tim Jumper, 48, owner of Keystone Flooring as he tried to spot the sun through the clouds and a welding helmet he owned through his hobby of building hot rods.
"My wife said, 'You better close up and come out here,'" said Jumper, who brought his son, Ben, to join wife, Kim, in the park. "I put a Post-It note on the door: Gone to see the eclipse."
Children played on the evening-dim playground or went through library-sponsored activities in the shelter of Kepple Pavilion while waiting out the clouds or awaiting their turn with a pair of glasses.
Among the activities, Kindergarten teacher Anthony Barbato spun Rocco and Giulianna Ventrice, 5 and 3 years old, in "orbit" of Adah Farnsworth, 7, to demonstrate the positions of the sun, earth and moon during the eclipse.
"We do an astronomy club at school, so I had some background knowledge; the library had some knowledge and we put this together," Barbato said.
"It looked like the moon got bitten," said Adah, after checking out the eclipse with some of the library's glasses.
Library director Denni Grassel said the number of people at the park likely exceeded the 200 sign-ins and volunteers, given how many appeared to have shown up without registering.
Between 200 and 300 people have gathered at Penn-Trafford High School where clouds were hindering the watch party around 2 p.m.
"Hopefully the clouds clear up so we can see it," said senior Josh Ritter, a member of the school's astronomy club.
The club set up its 8-inch telescope for eclipse partygoers to look at the sun through a solar filter.
"This is awesome," said Ritter, who hopes to become an aerospace engineer. "This stuff has always interested me."
He and teacher Ryan Tucek didn't expect so many people to gather in a grassy area behind the school building on a hot summer day.
"It's a very rare event," Tucek said. "This is really nice to see. I hope we can do more of these things in the future."
The club had about 60 pairs of glasses and they were gone in the first 10 minutes, Ritter said. Some people brought blankets and chairs to wait out the big moment.
Photo by Deb Erdley
Hundreds of people gathered at St. Vincent College in Unity for an eclipse watching party, turning a lawn into a party-like atmosphere. People brought camp chairs and blankets. Kids tossed a football.
Bruce Blackson, 70, of Greensburg, came with his wife, Jean. He vaguely remembered an eclipse in the 1950s.
"But Dad didn't even allow us to watch it with the pinhole (camera) then," he said.
Mira Funari, of Murrysville, brought her five children and her parents. She said the kids, ages newborn to 11, have been looking forward to the event.
"It's been part of the whole summer program at the library," Funari said. "They've been taking out books and watching specials on TV. Now they have an opportunity to see it."
Caleb Leahy looks at the start of eclipse with his grandfather Bill Leahy. pic.twitter.com/IEFzd7v5zz— Brian Rittmeyer (@BCRittmeyer) August 21, 2017
At Norwin, the elementary schools adjusted their recess schedules so that students would have recess before the advertised eclipse time period, said Jonathan Szish, Norwin's spokesman.
Rostraver Public Library Director Naomi Cross said the library had 22 solar eclipse viewing glasses for 96 people who registered for Monday's viewing.
She handed two patrons some eclipse viewing glasses and said, "You might have to share, so I really appreciate the friendly atmosphere for this solar eclipse viewing."
Bob Matuzak of Mars said he came to the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale with friends from Albany to view the eclipse.
"I knew it would be a nice, family friendly atmosphere."
His friend, Michael Hay, called it a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"It's indescribable," he said. "This really is exciting."
Jeanne Cecil, executive director of the Rachel Carson Homestead on today's eclipse. pic.twitter.com/pBSmUfP3Nh— Brian Rittmeyer (@BCRittmeyer) August 21, 2017
Getting ready for eclipse pic.twitter.com/EaQMsye2RP— Brian Rittmeyer (@BCRittmeyer) August 21, 2017