AACR: Oncologists look to the skies as partial solar eclipse passes over San Diego

When a rare solar eclipse passes overhead, what’s a scientist to do but stop and take a look? No matter that the scientists in question are oncologists. Everyone was suddenly an astronomer at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting Monday as the sun was briefly dimmed by the moon dipping in front.

“We're scientists, we gotta see this stuff, you know?” remarked one conference goer as he accepted a pair of eclipse glasses from a colleague and stopped to look up through the glass of the San Diego Convention Center roof.

Outside, hundreds of oncologists stood in front of the sprawling building wearing paper glasses with blackout lenses. All bore looks of wonder as they found the little orange crescent in the viewfinder.

There was a sense of camaraderie as people shared glasses back and forth. A young oncologist passing out eclipse glasses was swarmed by people until he ran out. Another batch arrived, and the crowd mobbed again.

Click here for more AACR 2024 coverage from the Fierce Biotech team. 

Many people tried to use the glasses to snap crude pictures of the eclipse with their iPhones (this reporter included). Others took selfies and laughed at the opportunity to see something that won’t happen in this country again until 2044—and only if you’re in North Dakota or Montana or Canada.

So, data be damned, the AACR conference briefly paused to watch the solar marvel.

Once the crescent slipped back to full, the hum of conversation picked up once more as people headed inside again to get to the business at hand: researching cancer.

AACR eclipse 2024
AACR eclipse 2024
Oncologists at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting don their eclipse glasses to check out the partial solar eclipse in San Diego.  (Annalee Armstrong/Fierce Biotech)