Eclipsed by clouds; Interest was high in astronomical event; results — not so much

Published 8:20 am Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The total eclipse of the sun was a total disappointment for many in the Austin area on Monday — but the faithful held tight until the eclipse began to see if the clouds would clear.

“Well, you can kind of see it, I guess,” said one teenager. “It’s pretty cloudy.”

Well, that was an understatement. Only an hour before, the sun could be seen shining brightly and hopes were high it would remain.

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But as the eclipse grew closer, clouds did, too.

“Where is it supposed to be?” asked Lou Beckel, owner of Lou’s Forever Framing, as she put on her special glasses. She had also purchased some for her grandchildren.

But without the brightness of the sun, she could see nary a thing out of the dark plastic lenses.

“Well, I guess it just wasn’t supposed to happen,” she said.

Others gathered in the downtown to take in the sight, many of them using cell phones to look at the progress when the haze cleared for a few seconds.

Perhaps even more disappointed were Josh Antonides of Nebraska City, Nebraska, and Charles Kann of Omaha, Nebraska. The pair, pulled to Austin on a work job, would have been closer to the totality region had they been home. They had to settle for cell phone photos sent by Antonides’ children.

Lou Beckel tries to make out the eclipse through the right eyewear — but clouds masked the event on Monday.

“Yeah, we planned to be there,” said Kann. “But it just so happens that we had to do this.”

“Sure, I’d rather be there,” said Antonides.

Yet, there were other visitors who actually came to town to escape all the heavenly hoopla, according to Penny Kinney of the Spam Museum.

She told of two couples from southern Illinois — who also would have been able to witness a total eclipse —  “who came here to get away from there,” said Kinney with a laugh.

“They said it was crazy down there and that even farmers near there weren’t planting crops this year just so they could rent out the land for all the people coming there. They said when they left, which was yesterday, traffic going there was bumper-to-bumper. Fortunately for them, they were going the right way — out of there.”