Around Eugene, Eclipse Watchers Cheer 99.4 Percent Totality

Aug 21, 2017

The 2017 solar eclipse has come and gone, capping off months of hype and anticipation.  In Eugene, people had a view of a little more than 99 percent of totality. KLCC reporters Brian Bull and Franziska Monahan spoke with eclipse watchers around town.

Brian Bull trekked up Spencer’s Butte. 

Brian Bull: Roughly 200 people lined the eastern crest of the butte, with blankets, cameras…even what looked like a miniature palm tree. Some – like Jase Brooks and McKaya Webb, got there early.

Jase Brooks and McKayla Webb, atop Spencers Butte for eclipse watching.
Credit Brian Bull

McKaya: “Uhh…I woke up at 3:30 to leave at 4, to go sunrise hiking to be up here.” (Jase: Yeah, we just started hiking through the night, and tripped over plenty of stuff.  but y’know, we made it to the top, Sunrise was beautiful, bright red.”

Bull:  What are your hopes for this big thing?

Jase:  I dunno.  Just think it’s going to be cool. Maybe the earth will split in two, or somethin’.”

Bull: Paul Northrop and his wife came to Eugene from Thousand Oaks, California…nearly 900 miles away.  He explains how he’ll photograph the celestial event.

Sarah, Cheryl, and Paul Northrop. Sarah is a U of O student, and they're all from Thousand Oaks, CA nearly 900 miles away.
Credit Brian Bull

Northrop: “Well, I’m using a Marumi solar filter.  And it’s dense as you can get.  Adjust the shutter speed, the aperture.  And use a shutter remote. 

Bull: “Have you had much practice shooting eclipses before?”

Northrop: “Never (laughs).  So I’ve been practicing at home, just aiming it at the sun.”

Bull: When maximum eclipse occurred, people slipped on their special protective glasses, and let loose whoops and howls. 

Besides getting darker, the temperature fell to what felt like the 40s, with strong gusts.   As the moon drifted past the sun, the crowds took to the trails. U of O Student Sarah Northrop says she’s glad her parents came to see the eclipse with her.

Eclipse gazers at Spencer's Butte.
Credit Brian Bull

Northrop: “Because in places like southern California you’re only getting about half of what we’re getting here, and so you don’t get the same effect of it getting colder and darker and windier, I don’t think you would get that in places where it didn’t have as much totality.”

Bull: Ruth Johnson of Eugene took a selfie with her family before leaving Spencers Butte.

Ruth Johnson (center) and her family.
Credit Brian Bull

Johnson: “I love the lighting, I love the way the lighting changes.  And you can just…the feel of it.  Really for us, every time we get together’s a little bit of a party so it’s always a good time, so this is just more of the same, and more memorable because of the eclipse.”

Bull: The next solar eclipse to cross the U.S. is in 2024. That’s seven years to map and plan again.

Eclipse watchers gathered at the Eugene YMCA field.
Credit Franziska Monahan

Franziska Monahan joined eclipse watchers at the Eugene Family YMCA field for a community viewing party.

Franziska Monahan: At the Eugene YMCA, people came with their blankets, picnic breakfasts and approved solar glasses to watch the great American eclipse. When the moon began to block the sun at approximately 9:05AM, it already had field full of enraptured audience members, like young Zander Beaudouin.

Monahan: “I was wondering if you could describe to me what the sun looks like right now.”

Zander Beaudouin (left) and members of his family watch as the eclipse approaches its peak.
Credit Franziska Monahan

Beaudouin: “Um, it looks like an orange ball…that a baby took a small nibble out of.”

Monahan: The Oregon Eye Consultants and Lane County Medical Society had 1600 pairs of free solar glasses to give out, though some people preferred alternative eclipse viewing methods. Kyle Klarup, who earned his PhD in optical physics from the University of Oregon last week, demonstrated how a pair of binoculars and a white piece of paper could be used to safely watch an eclipse.

Kyle Klarup is doubly prepared to watch the eclipse.
Credit Franziska Monahan

Klarup: “This is just a simple projection system.  I have a pair of binoculars that’s hooked up on a tripod and it’s imaging the sun on a white piece of particle board, pretty much. And the image is enlarged so you can see the sun more easily and it’s diffused because you’re looking at the image on a piece of white paper so you can look at it without wearing glasses.”

Monahan: Approximately 1000 people gathered at the YMCA field to share the once in a lifetime experience. As the eclipse hit its peak at 10:17AM, the field darkened, the air cooled and the crowd went wild.

Klarup's projection device makes it possible to view the eclipse without solar glasses by reflecting it onto a piece of poster board.
Credit Franziska Monahan