GR group goes west for ‘beautiful, amazing’ eclipse

Total solar eclipse, wyoming, glendo state park
The total solar eclipse as seen from Glendo State Park in Wyoming state. (Aug. 21, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A group from Grand Rapids made the trek west to witness the total solar eclipse.

The Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association organized a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska for about 80 people and invited 24 Hour News 8 along for the journey.

“The last time I remember seeing any part of a solar eclipse was back in 1979, so it really doesn’t happen very often. And with my folks obviously elderly, too, we just felt this was such a wonderful and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity thing and we may never see this again,” said Grand Rapids civil engineer Dennis Cole, who along with his parents and nephew headed west in an RV.

total solar eclipse, Glendo State Park, Wyoming
A 24 Hour News 8 camera rolls on the total solar eclipse at Glenda State Park in Wyoming state. (Aug. 21, 2017)

Upon meeting in Lincoln Sunday night, some members of the group became nervous that eastern Nebraska’s forecast for the event was too risky because of cloud cover. So a group of 10 decided to continue on to Glendo, Wyoming, while others also traveled farther west toward the Wyoming state line.

“[We] drove all day on Sunday and decided we needed to get to a better sighting and drove all night to get here,” Grand Rapids resident Diane Perkins told 24 Hour News 8 at Glendo State Park Monday.

“Everyone has to experience it in their lifetime,” she added.

The moments leading up to totality were exhilarating, and cheers rang out as the clear sky showed off a beautiful corona when the moon fully eclipsed the sun.

>>App users: Click here to replay of a livestream of the eclipse

Words can barely describe what it’s like to view the spectacle among complete strangers who have traveled from all over for the same purpose.

“Here we have all the people, we have the people on the bluffs in the distance, we have the clouds in the distance. It’s beautiful. It’s really quite amazing,” Matthew Szudzik told 24 Hour News 8.

Like many in the group, Szudzik works at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.