Clouds clear for total solar eclipse along path of totality

Incoming clouds and rain chances knocked the wind out of the sails of several people who made their way to view Monday's total solar eclipse along the path of totality in Atchison, Kan. or Beatrice, Neb. But in the end, the clouds parted just enough and the sky show did not disappoint.

In both communities, thousands had reason to cheer Monday afternoon. Atchison was soaked with rain all morning, and when the rain cleared, the clouds stuck around.

Several people who gathered in the town were ready to give up, but then, just in time, as the clock on the scoreboard at the Benedictine College football field counted down to totality, the skies opened and the crowd erupted.

It was celebration and relief for thousands who drove from all over the nation to be in Atchison.

"We thought we could see it really well. It was so great and it was neat how dark it got," one visitor told Eyewitness News. "I wasn't expecting it to get that dark. We knew it would, but darkness during the day is pretty cool by itself."

In Beatrice, the slight cloud cover didn't impede the incredible view of the total solar eclipse. Casual observers and professionals alive enjoyed the view, including lifelong astronomer Lee Wolfson.

"When you look in the sky and you see the moon going through phases, it's not jarring, because you're used to seeing that," Wolfson said. "But when you start to see the shape of the sun start to change, and the quality of light, it's profound."

Professional eclipse chaser James Dean Young said he chose to view Monday's event in Beatrice, in part because of Nebraska's landscape and the fact that much of the state was in the path of totality.

"We picked (Nebraska) for the prairie because you can see the shadow racing toward you at 1,500 miles an hour," Young said.

He said he's been counting down to Monday's coast-to-coast total solar eclipse for decades.

NASA also had its presence in Beatrice, there to record a rare event that won't happen in the U.S. again for decades.