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    Darkness in the daytime: Wright-Patt witnesses total eclipse

    Darkness in the daytime: Wright-Patt witnesses total eclipse

    Photo By R.J. Oriez | A spectator takes a picture as a solar eclipse enters totality the afternoon of April...... read more read more

    WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO, UNITED STATES

    04.11.2024

    Story by R.J. Oriez 

    88th Air Base Wing

    WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – As the midafternoon sun disappeared from the blue sky Monday, and the darkness of night fell across Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, a cheer went up from those gathered behind the base’s club and banquet center.

    People had gathered to claim their spots hours before the start of the eclipse, and the 88th Force Support Squadron was ready for them with an eclipse viewing party a year and a half in the making.

    “It’s a lot of working with our mission support partners,” said Sarah Burkhardt, 88 FSS community programmer. “We brought in (the Air Force Institute of Technology). They’re here teaching and helping with telescopes. We had to figure out the food, what’s it going to look like, what’s the entertainment going to be, how many people are going to show up, what do we need to give them?”

    Burkhardt knew her gathering would not rival the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force’s gala, which was open to the public and expecting 30,000 people or more to show up. Hers was limited to those who had base access.

    Base leaders called for the maximum number of WPAFB workers to telework so they could avoid an anticipated traffic logjam. But Burkhardt was happy with the turnout.

    “We have over 500 people so far and we’re not even at totality,” she said about an hour before the eclipse peaked.

    Some attendees walked to the Wright-Patt Club from base housing. Others traveled hundreds of miles to be there.

    Marie and Jasmine Benline were two who traveled. The sisters had their spot on blankets spread out in a grassy area across the street from the club.

    Jasmine is an Air Force staff sergeant with the 423rd Training Squadron at McGuire AFB, New Jersey. Her younger sister, Marie, is a second lieutenant attached to Air University Headquarters on Maxwell AFB, Alabama. However, their parents live in the Dayton area and their father is retired Air Force, so they came home for the show.

    But this was not Jasmine’s first eclipse. She saw the 2017 eclipse in South Carolina.

    “I’ve been waiting seven years for this,” she said. “I’m so excited to be here with everybody. I want them to see it, too, because this is their first.”

    It took more than an hour, from when the moon first made its presence known on the sun’s southeast edge, for the moon to completely cover the sun. Finally at 3:09 p.m., the “diamond ring,” the moment the last small bit of the sun’s surface can be seen with the moon surrounded by the sun’s corona, appeared and then it, and the sun, was gone, with just the corona and a stray solar flare or two visible.

    Spontaneously, there were whistles, cheers and applause from the crowd. The special eclipse glasses came off as people looked up in wonder.

    Then, less than three minutes after the first diamond ring, came the second one, signaling the end of totality. Quickly, light returned.

    Soon, people started gathering their things to head home, but the sense of marvel remained.

    “It was amazing!” Marie Benline said after seeing her first eclipse. “It was gorgeous! You can’t even get it in pictures. Just seeing it with your eye, it’s a different experience.”

    Her sister, Jasmine, the veteran eclipse observer, added: “I’m still shaking! I waited seven years for this, and I’m glad I waited.”

    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.11.2024
    Date Posted: 04.11.2024 14:01
    Story ID: 468341
    Location: WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO, US
    Hometown: DAYTON, OHIO, US

    Web Views: 34
    Downloads: 0

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