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Solar eclipse brings community together

A large crowd gathered at The Grace Museum today to take in the solar eclipse at the rooftop and courtyard viewing party. Guests enjoyed the 96% totality view of the eclipse. Some grabbed lunch from the food vendors. Others created science crafts.

Local locksmith, Gary McDonald, brought a welding mask from his tool shop with a number 13 lens to view the eclipse. The view through the mask was a unique one: the eclipse appeared green!

McDonald passed the mask around the party so anyone who wanted a better view of the eclipse could have the opportunity to use his lens. According to him, this was the best part of the watch party, “Just enjoying talking to the people. The eclipse was nice, but I enjoyed the company of the people the most. That was the best part.”

The total eclipse was not only an important event in science and history; it was also a lovely moment of connection for the Abilene community.

The closest spot to see the eclipse at 100% was Brownwood. Kristy Swan was one of two dozen people who drove a couple of miles south of the city to watch the eclipse at the Elkins Cemetery. “A friend and I had been waiting for this for four years since we first started hearing bout it,” Swan said as the sun began to reemerge. "And we were just so glad that we were able to get into the totality even for a short period of time.”

Mark Conder said he took the day off work and joined the gathering after a much further drive, “I came from Lubbock, TX to view the eclipse. It was just on the edge of the totality and kind of the closest path to Lubbock, coming in from the Northwest. It was a little questionable because of the clouds this morning where the best viewing areas would be. But it looks like it cleared up.”

Gail Croft said she wasn’t worried about the predictions of cloudy skies blocking the view, and she described her experience as ‘awesome’, “I mean it’s a once in a lifetime. It was wonderful watching it as it came in and covered, and then the temperature dropped. It was cool and pleasant. I wish everyone could experience it because it was beautiful.”

It’ll be a while before Americans have a chance to see another total eclipse. The next one visible from Canada, Montana, and North Dakota will be in August of 2044.

Heather Claborn joined KACU as news director in January 2018. She oversees daily newscast and feature reporting and works with KACU’s news anchors to develop newscasts. She also conducts two-way interviews, reports for newscast and feature stories and maintains the station’s social media and website content. In 2020, Claborn helped staff develop the daily newsletter that is delivered by email.