MADRAS, OR -- The tens of thousands of people who converged on Madras to watch Monday's eclipse were not disappointed. Cheers erupted at SolarFest at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds as totality began, just before 10:20. Horns sounded, letting everyone know it was safe to remove their protective eyewear for two minutes.
Average spectators watched alongside professional and amateur photographers and scientists. Astronomer Dr. Brian Kane says he wasn’t here to study the eclipse; he just wanted to take it in with everyone else. He'd never
seen a total eclipse in person. "Well, I chose Madras because it had the best overall weather forecast for mid-August. Least chance of clouds, basically." There were concerns that smoke from area wildfires would obscure the view, and clouds moved through about an hour ahead of the eclipse, making some nervous. But the skies remained clear throughout the phenomenon.
Even the vendors stopped what they were doing to watch totality. Kurt Voorhees, of Bend, was working a food booth at SolarFest. He had eclipse glasses but also created his own pinhole projector. He tells KBND News, "It was amazing; it was insane. At first, I thought it was going to take a while to get dark and once it started getting dark, it got dark quick. And then you could see the ring and it was just shooting out little bits of light on each side; super awesome. An extremely amazing moment that I’m very glad to be a part of."
On the outskirts of Madras, Fionna Pierce viewed the eclipse from the front lawn of a friend's house. She came from New Zealand to watch the big event. "I didn’t really know what to expect, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. But, it was a slow process getting to that moment when it was a full eclipse." And, she says, it was worth the trip and the wait. "The temperature dropped; the pressure dropped, it was really kind of an eerie lighting. The birds flew off into the trees and then there was just this incredible moment where everything went dark. And you saw the ring around the moon. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen on television and thought I’d be experiencing. It’s really hard to describe." She tells KBND News it exceeded her expectations, "It under promised and over delivered."
The moon had barely shifted off the sun and visitors were already trying to leave the larger viewing events, causing major traffic delays throughout the region. At SolarFest, many attendees fled to their vehicles just as totality ended. Bumper to bumper traffic plagued Madras and much of the High Desert for hours.
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.