Thousands enjoy local solar eclipse watch parties

The path of totality didn't pass over south central Kansas, but the solar eclipse was still a sight to behold with more than 90 percent of the sun blocked out by the moon for more than two minutes Monday afternoon.

Hundreds of people lined up bright and early Monday morning to get their hands on a pair of eclipse glasses at Exploration Place. Eventually, the facility ran out of glasses, but the enthusiasm leading up to the eclipse didn't wane.

The crowd started gathering at 5:30 a.m. The moon covered about 93 percent of the sun a little after 1 p.m.

Among the thousands who made their way to Exploration Place Monday was Linda Johnson who brought her granddaughter to view the eclipse.

"It's probably somethign that will never happen again in my lifetime, so I wanted to bring her and enjoy it with her," Johnson says.

Exploration Place gave out thousands of glasses to people who didn't have them. Some were willing to share glasses with those who still were not able to get a pair.

One of the best places to view the eclipse outside the path of totality was in Hutchinson at the Kansas cosmosphere. The Cosmosphere held a watch party in conjunction with Hutchinson Public Library. Hundreds of eclipse glasses were handed out Monday morning when it was still cloudy. Fortunately, the sun came out about 11 a.m., just in time for the moon to begin passing over the sun.

As the eclipse progressed, Hutchinson resident Ryan VanZant observed the outside temperature getting cooler and "almost a little eerie feel to the air."

Kansas Cosmosphere Dick Hollowell says he was pleased with the turnout and the cooperation from Mother Nature.

There were games for children and binoculars and telescopes with solar filters outside the cosmosphere for people to safely get a closer view of the eclipse.

"It turned out to be a great day for us," Hollowell says. "The clouds parted. The clouds parted and everyone seems to have had a great time."