Park Rapids treated to partial solar eclipse

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Grey clouds thinned just enough for local sky gazers to watch the most anticipated celestial event of the year.

The Park Rapids Area Library hosted an "eclipse extravaganza" in its parking lot, drawing about 40 people. Prior to Aug. 21, library staff distributed 1,100 solar viewing glasses. They set aside another 50 for those who arrived for Monday's phenomenon.

"I think this is a well-planned, well-organized family event," commented Kristi Jay, adding she was pleased to see several generations experiencing the solar eclipse together. "This is fun. I see all these people — parents, grandparents, kids. Everybody together. It's great."

Jay watched the eclipse with her grandson.

Several onlookers had witnessed the previous total solar eclipse to carve a path across North America on Feb. 26, 1979.

"Well, as far as I can remember, it was partial. I remember getting glasses," Carson, 82, said. She's lived in Park Rapids since 1953.

According to NASA, everyone in the contiguous U.S., plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe saw at least a partial solar eclipse on Monday. The thin path of totality passed through portions of 14 states.

The moon reached peak coverage of the sun at around 1:05 p.m. in Park Rapids. Clouds drifted across the scene, obscuring the view from time to time.

Those who failed to look skyward will have to wait until April 8, 2024. The next eclipse visible in the Lower 48 will track northeast from Texas to Maine. Major cities in the path of the 2024 total solar eclipse include Dallas, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Buffalo and Montreal.

After the 2024 event, the next closest round over the U.S. occurs Aug. 12, 2045.

In 82 years, Minnesota will be in the path of totality. On Sept. 14, 2099, a total solar eclipse will begin just off the Pacific coast of Canada, then cross British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, the Virginias and North Carolina. The 2099 eclipse will pass through Minneapolis, Madison and Grand Rapids.