It’s not every day that people cheer and shed tears for the sun. Of course, August 21, 2017, was no ordinary day, especially for those who’ve had it marked on their calendar for decades.
“Forty-seven years basically,” Greg Halac said with a laugh, peering into a telescope as the sun rose over Glendo, Wyoming.
Halac was one of the thousands who descended on Glendo to witness the solar eclipse at the center of the path of totality.
The amateur astronomer had been waiting for eclipse day for about as long as he could remember.
“1970; I was like ten years old and we had an eclipse go up the coast of Virginia,” Halac recalled. “After seeing a like 97 percent eclipse then, I started looking for a total that I could see and this was the first one I knew I could easily get to.”
Three years ago, Halac convinced his friend, Eric Olsen, to convert his cabin near Glendo State Park into a campground for eclipse viewers. Olsen remembers the conversation.
“Of course, that was back in 2014 and I was like, ‘what are you saying?’” Olsen said.
Olsen certainly didn’t expect the crowd of people that showed up over the weekend. About 90 people, including 9NEWS reporter Noel Brennan and photojournalist Anne Herbst, camped on Olsen’s property for the eclipse.
There was even a team of amateur astronomers from Toronto who made the trip, and were especially glad to see clear skies.
“A lot of us came a long way for this, so we’ve been stressing for more than a year or two about clouds in the sky,” Chris Vaughan said, a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
Conditions were about as good as anyone could have hoped Monday. The crowd of campers outside Eric Olsen’s cabin donned eclipse glasses and peaked through telescopes equipped with solar filters as the moon started to cross in front of the sun.
“It’s almost like a crescent moon like you’d see in the middle of the night,” Olsen said, staring up at the sky.
“Through the glasses, the sun’s looking pretty much like a banana,” Greg Halac said, as the eclipse moved closer toward totality.
Minutes later, the moon moved into position at the center of the sun leaving only a bright, shimmering corona.
“Oh diamond ring!” Halac yelled out. “No glasses! You don’t need glasses.”
For Halac, it was well worth the wait of 47 years and the trip to Glendo to see his very first solar eclipse.
“Oh that was amazing,” Halac said with a smile, before letting out a big sigh.
A day that started with a gorgeous sunrise over Glendo, somehow managed to get better.