Sanders: Eclipse of a lifetime | TheFencePost.com

Sanders: Eclipse of a lifetime

I did it! I drove the two hours to arrive in Alliance, Neb., in order to witness the eclipse in totality. It was worth every moment.

I went to a nice park where I knew my way around. As I perused the area I saw a group with a huge telescope all set up. They were there to see the eclipse and also to share their knowledge and looking devices.

One fellow had gone to a welding shop and purchased the lens only out of a welding helmet, which gave him a nice rectangular viewing piece.

The man in charge of the group, we'll call him Dude, was on his 11th eclipse and his wife, Dudette, on her ninth. They have ventured throughout the world to do this. They were from St. Paul, Minn., and they chose Alliance due to the central location for their small group. It was composed of a couple from the Netherlands, a man from Australia, another from Spain and a handful of Americans.

“My regret was my grandkids were not allowed to see it, even in their schools on the first day of the year.”

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The park was not any more crowded than any summer day. The kids played on the swings and the many, many dogs, well, they did their thing and I never saw anyone picking it up. The eclipse was a darkness and coolness compared to a late dusk, not totally dark. The most prevalent comment that people made even where they were not in the area of totality was "It didn't get dark!" For some reason many thought it would be dark as night.

With the glasses, I watched as the eclipse moved through its phases. People without the special glasses missed so much; the ones I heard from were in areas predicted to be 98.5 percent of totality or a bit less. Without the glasses they weren't able to realize the changes as the eclipse progressed. I'm sorry these folks didn't bother to pick up glasses.

Dudette had a small white tablecloth on the ground and periodically she held up a colander she had brought along to show the phases in shadow, through the small holes. She also had a piece of heavy paper with holes punched throughout for the same purpose. Since she used to be an elementary teacher she was particularly attentive to children and explained many things to them. After the eclipse was over one boy about 11 years old said, "It was so worth it!"

My regret was my grandkids were not allowed to see it, even in their schools on the first day of the year. The only youngsters that got to see it were those whose parents permitted them to miss the first day, and there were many.

I could see there was going to be a mass exodus from Alliance and therefore traffic snarls. I went to the library for a couple of hours and let the crowds thin out. It paid off as I had a fairly traffic-free drive home, unlike thousands of others who in their rush to get on the road ended up paying dearly with their time in crawling traffic.❖