Arlene Henriques was bummed the weather never cleared up Sunday evening so she could see the partial solar eclipse.
The Columbia Basin College student arrived on campus at 4 p.m. to stake out her spot at the Robert & Elisabeth Moore Observatory.
She had four cameras fitted with solar filters and a cardboard solar viewer or "pinhole camera," but the specialized equipment wasn't needed because those pesky rain clouds just wouldn't budge.
But the Kennewick resident wouldn't let that dampen her spirit. Henriques opted to see the positive in it: "Well over 100 people came to a non-event at CBC, which is really awesome."
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Yes, Mother Nature didn't want to cooperate for people across Washington state hoping for a glimpse of the historic celestial event.
An "annular eclipse" of the sun is when the new moon passes in front of the sun until its silhouette lies directly in the middle of the sun for a few minutes. All that is left is a slender ring of sunlight -- or a "ring of fire" -- as about 83 percent of the sun is covered, according to Roy Gephart, an environmental scientist with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and an avid amateur astronomer.
Those looking skyward Sunday saw nothing.
But while adults and children played games on the observatory's lawn, participated in science experiments and snapped pictures, a projector inside the building showed the eclipse as it occurred over Northern California. The live internet feed came from SLOOH Space Camera, and people occasionally popped into the room to check the moon's movement until the eclipse reached totality.
Cameras and cell phones were used to record the brief moment as everyone stood in awe of what was before them on the large screen.
Earlier in the evening, Henriques said she saw the eclipse as viewed from Mount Fuji in Japan. A one-time astronomy student who now focuses on intercultural studies, Henriques said she was glad to see the CBC event open to the public.
"It's a great day and it feels good out. Yeah it's overcast but none of us mind," she said. "It's such an opportunity for the Tri-Cities and it beats the heck out of sitting in the living room with them on the computer."
Like Henriques, Marie and Robert Rose decided to get out of the house and hope for the best when they drove 40 minutes to Pasco with their three daughters, ages 4, 6 and 8.
The Echo, Ore., family knew the weather might not be any different over the border, but they knew it would still be a fun adventure.
"We thought it would be a good opportunity to see some neat science things and hopefully see some of the eclipse," said Robert Rose, whose wife heard about the event on the radio. "So we thought, well, we might as well try. We figured the weather would be the same up here but figured what the heck."
Rose said the couple want their girls to experience things away from TV and videos.
"They're real big into bugs and animals and all things nature ...," he said. "You never know what sparks a kid's curiosity."
Kristy Henscheid, a CBC assistant professor of biology, said she was pleased with the turnout considering the "terrible" weather.
Henscheid said even though the observatory is located not far from the bright lights of the Tri-Cities Airport and the Pasco Autoplex, Bob Moore wanted it in that location for community outreach, which clearly worked Sunday.
Mike Durst, director of the Moore Observatory, traveled to New Mexico on Saturday so he could scout a location for optimal eclipse viewing.
In a phone call Sunday evening, an excited Durst told the Herald it was "unbelievably beautiful" to watch the skies over Albuquerque get dark and the mountain colors change as the moon moved over the sun. He was sorry that viewers missed it back home in the Tri-Cities.
Gephart and others are hoping the second celestial event on June 5 will be visible here.
That's when Venus makes a rare transit across the face of the afternoon sun, a sight that won't come around for another 105 years, Gephart said. It will start at 3:05 p.m. and still be under way when the sun sets at 8:45 p.m.
The observatory at Columbia Basin College will again stage a free, safe telescope viewing. Members of the Tri-City Astronomy Club and staff from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) at Hanford will be on hand.
"Most of life is about experiences and these are unique opportunities that life brings to us," said Gephart, noting that the next total eclipse is in August 2017. "If we'd not had the cloudy skies, this would have been partial eclipse central."