Solar eclipse lives up to its billing with spectacular views

Now that was cool!
After all the hype and hoopla previewing last week’s eclipse I for one was wondering right up until the final hour if in fact the solar show would live up to its billing. It did, in my view, but just in the nick of time.
How utterly disappointing it would have been if those thick clouds blocking the view for many in Central Nebraska would have hovered just a few minutes more. That’s all it would have taken to ruin my experience, as well as the thousands of others gathered at various places around Hamilton County. It would have been a totality bust, making all the hours I and others spent in logistics/event planning meetings over the past year seem like an exercise in futility.
Instead, the clouds parted, the moon gradually rolled through the sky, and then it happened. The diamond ring effect I’d been waiting for was oh so brief, yet oh so spectacular. Then day turned to night, in a surreal kind of way, with the horizon looking unlike any Nebraska sunrise or sunset I’ve ever seen. If felt like the twilight zone in real time.
The reactions around me in Hampton, where I watched this once-in-a-lifetime event with 2,000 or so of my new best friends, as well as my brother Randy from Kansas City, was something special. Some people gasped, there was a lot of cheering, and a few even admitted to weeping, overcome with emotion they didn’t expect.
I’m not sure what I expected to feel for that 2 minutes and 31 seconds of totality. When it finally arrived, my heart was pounding yet there was a simultaneous sense of eerie calm. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have driven for hours to put myself in the path of totality, but I’m glad the powers that be put me there.
There was most definitely a sense of a higher power in that moment, adding to the depth of the experience for me, and yet there was so much science in the air as well. It is simply mind boggling to my novice astrological mind that scientists could predict with such precision exactly what would happen in the skies above and when, decades before it unfolded.
Folks in Aurora and Hampton made the most of this rare opportunity, rolling out the red carpet and hosting quality events. I spoke to people from all over on eclipse day and the weekend prior, and to a person they were enjoying their experience here and glad they came. There’s a lesson there in the value of tourism, though the eclipse was obviously a one-time gig.
Just as my friend Dan Glomski predicted, the total solar eclipse gave us a new view of a world we all thought we knew so well, offering an experience we will never, ever forget.
Kurt Johnson

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