Monday the life-sustaining ball of fire and gas known as the sun was temporarily blocked by Earth’s icy, barren moon, casting a shadow on North America the likes of which hasn’t been seen in centuries. It sounded like a good time for a beer.
Rooftop bars and patios across Raleigh held viewing parties Monday afternoon for the big show. A few, like the Raleigh Beer Garden, Hibernian Pub and the Station at Person Street, handed out eclipse glasses to customers.
Though it’s not officially open to the public for another week or so, the 10th & Terrace rooftop bar at the downtown Residence Inn threw a ticketed viewing party with a view and a close seat to the action.
Conrad Simon works downtown and said 10th & Terrace offered the best glimpse of the eclipse without a giant expense.
“This was the best spot in Raleigh without having to actually, like, spend real hard money and going out to the mountains or even further out west to get a better view,” Simon said. “It’s cool, but it’s not that cool, to me.”
His friend Matt Tremper brought sunlight blocking binoculars to the party.
“It’s a once in a lifetime event, pretty much,” Tremper said. “This is just the best view in town. You can’t get much higher than this.”
Party goers had mixed success covering their smart phone cameras with their eclipse glasses and taking a photo. Some came out saying the sun looked like celery, others a bean or blob. As it got closer to the peak time of the eclipse, the light in downtown Raleigh dimmed ever so slightly.
Chanita Mills works in downtown Raleigh but had Monday off, so she brought her two young children Christian and Kristiana, to see the eclipse. About 20 minutes before the eclipse’s peak Christian described what he saw.
“It’s a little bit cool,” Christian Mills said. “The sun is orange and the moon is actually black, almost covering the sun. It’s shaped sort of like a banana.”
Hector Jeyakaran is the general manager of the Residence Inn and said it’s been 50 years since his last major eclipse, when he as 7 or 8 on his grandparents farm in southern India.
“At that time we had no forewarning it was going to happen,” Jeyakaran said. “It just came through in the morning and everything darkened.”
Pat and Cathy Patton prepared for the eclipse by watching a documentary on Netflix, but said they came to 10th & Terrace largely to check out the new bar.
“We watched the Netflix documentary the other day, but that was a total eclipse,” Pat Patton said. “The guy made some analogy that going to a partial one is like going to the movie theater, buying a ticket and not going in ... But it’s fun, a good way to spend the afternoon.”
Once in a lifetime is usually a pretty compelling reason to do something and that brought Katie Cozort and Allie Jacobs to the rooftop.
“I’m a victim of the hype, I don’t know much about celestial things,” Cozort said. “But you see something like that on the news and you think, okay, I should probably see it. It’s not like ‘Oh well, I’ll catch the next one, because we’ll probably be dead.’ ”
The two then made tentative plans to go to Mexico in seven years for the next convenient total solar eclipse.
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson