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From near and far, Waco draws crowds of thousands for solar eclipse

Autumn Jones

The much anticipated total solar eclipse brought together thousands of visitors and locals in Waco yesterday for a once in a lifetime celestial event.

Cloudy skies and gloomy weather reports didn’t stop thousands of people from coming to watch the total solar eclipse in Waco yesterday.

Distant travelers and curious locals alike anxiously waited through the gray-skied afternoon hoping for a chance to get a glimpse of totality, when the moon fully blocks the sun.

Luckily for Waco viewers, there was just enough of a break in the cloudiness to witness the rare celestial event.

Over 13,000 tickets were sold to the Eclipse Over Texas Live From Waco event at Baylor University’s touchdown alley. Scientists from Lowell Observatory and NASA were in attendance, creating an optimal learning experience for those interested in space.

Dr. Tyler Richey-Yowell, an astronomer from Lowell Observatory, traveled from Flagstaff, Arizona to speak about how ultraviolet radiation from stars can impact planets.

Dr. Tyler Richey-Yowell: “Events such as these are really great places to learn in a judgment free zone, you know. We as scientists are so excited to share with you what we know.”

But astronomers weren’t just there to teach, they also gathered important information that will shed light on our atmosphere according to Dr. Mark Clampin, Astrophysics Director at NASA.

Dr. Mark Clampin: “Scientists are also, you know, using this to understand what happens when you have a very small change in temperature and the impact on the atmosphere and the different layers of the atmosphere.”

Meanwhile, across town some people opted for a more relaxed viewing experience at local parks.

David Murphy: “Here was an opportunity to see an eclipse that literally is in my own neighborhood.”

David Murphy, Waco resident and professor at Texas State Technical College, watched the eclipse at Woodway Park. He created his own telescope out of pieces from a copy machine.

David Murphy: “I made this thing, this attachment here, and it’s called a sun funnel. It really is just an oil funnel and it fits over the eye piece, and you can put it on any telescope.”

So, whether you watched the eclipse surrounded by professional astronomers or in your own backyard, it was sure to be a moment to never forget.

These solar eclipses are quite rare; the next won’t touch the United States until 2044. By then, a new generation of scientists and astronomers will be the ones studying our universe. And who knows, maybe their interest in space began yesterday…right here in Waco, Texas.