CASPER, Wyo. — Nearly 40,000 people packed into Casper in central Wyoming to witness the historic Great American Solar Eclipse.
Casper is located in the center of what’s known as the “path of totality”, where the moon completely blocks out the sun.
Thousands gathered in fields, parking lots and other open spaces to view the sun during the eclipse.
“In a minute it’ll start to take a bite out of the sun,” Cameron Johnson of Albuquerque, New Mexico said moments before the eclipse began.
The moon began visibly blocking the sun at 10:22 a.m. The eclipse started in the upper right part of the sun, and slowly moved down and to the left across the sun’s surface.
“Yep, there you go! It’s starting!” Johnson shouted when it started.
For the next hour and twenty minutes, thousand of others at the Casper Events Center used special viewing glasses and telescopes with solar filters to view the moon’s progress.
“For me, this is an opportunity to see the handiwork of God,” said Phillip Little of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Whatever you believe in, the eclipse in Casper was unbelievable. There was almost no cloud cover blocking the views.
About 25 minutes before totality, the temperature began to drop. The sun’s rays didn’t feel powerful like they did earlier in the morning. It also slowly began to get darker.
“It’s like a nervous, excited kind of thing where like you want it to happen but you don’t know what’s gonna happen when it happens,” a teenager from Denver told FOX31.
At 11:42 exactly, as the moon fully overtook the sun, a shadow raced across from west to east blinking out the last bit of light in Casper. It turned from day to night in mere seconds.
“That is it! Check it out!” Johnson yelled.
The crowd cheered loudly as the sun’s corona became visible behind the moon.
“It’s a black sun!” one young boy screamed.
The moment of totality lasted two minutes and twenty six seconds.
Planets and stars were visible with the naked eye. What looked like a sunset could be seen 360 degrees around Casper. The city’s lights came on and some people in town even blew off fireworks.
“I’m shaking. I don’t even know what to say, this is unreal,” the Denver teenager said.
As the moon moved out of totality, the crowd burst into an even bigger gasp as the eclipse presented Casper its “diamond ring”. The diamond ring appears when the first bit of light shines after totality.
“Oh this is incredible,” a Denver woman said. “I’m just still tearing. It’s so beautiful.”
Wyoming will not see another total solar eclipse in our lifetime. The next one in the United States will happen from Texas to Maine in 2024. A total solar eclipse will also cross Colorado in the year 2045.