RAVENNA — A cool breeze swung through the air across the Ravenna Golf Club Monday afternoon.
Dozens of people lining the west edge of a fairway atop a hill cheered and danced in awe as they watched the ball of fire in the sky become totally eclipsed by the moon.
Annie Ellingham of Minneapolis, Minn., described the experience as being "completely Gobsmacked."
Seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher Tracey Schultz of Minneapolis, Minn., was jumping as she watched the total solar eclipse.
"I mean you just don’t, you don’t know what to expect. I’ve never experienced anything like that," she said of her reaction.
Before the total solar eclipse, Ellingham, Schultz, their gang from Minnesota and dozens others watched the harsh mid-day light soften over the golf course. Overlooking a pasture to the west, they gasped as the sky turned pink and purple just before the total solar eclipse.
Others looked at shadows from the partial eclipse before watching the final event.
Kelly Patriquin of Phoenix poked holes in a box in order to view the tiny crescents cast shadows on the ground. Amateur astronomer Kent Duryee of Minneapolis set up a Dobsonian telescope in downtown Ravenna. Through the telescope, a crescent was reflected onto a piece of black cardboard.
"So the sun comes down, there’s a big mirror down in the bucket down here, and it reflects its image up to a secondary mirror and shoots it out of the lens," Duryee said to explain how the telescope works.
In another part of Ravenna, people converged on the ball fields to watch the eclipse, then moon-walked to a Michael Jackson song.
At Seneca Sunrise, an assisted living center in Ravenna, four generations of Bullises watched the eclipse from the side yard.
Norma Bullis, 87, a resident of Seneca Sunrise and 50-year resident of Ravenna, said this was her first total solar eclipse.
"It was awesome. It was different," she said.
Her son Cordell Bullis and his wife, Carol, of Bellevue and her daughter Barb Rosenthal and her husband, Mike, of Kearney were there. Norma’s young great-grandson, Theodore Bullis, son of Kevin and Heather Bullis of Omaha, was there with his great-grandmother to experience the once-in-a-lifetime event.
"He’s seeing it at the beginning of his life. She’s seeing it later in life," Kevin said of Theodore and Norma.
To watch the total eclipse outside of Ravenna’s city limits, people parked along the blacktopped 340th Road, also known as the Ravenna Cut-off, southwest of Ravenna. About a dozen cars lined Poole Road just north and south of the cut-off because there is flat land and low-lying soybean fields to the east and west of the road.
Families from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, California and New Jersey staked out on the side road, anxiously waiting the eclipse. One woman, Vimala Morthala, of Hyderbad, India, traveled halfway around the globe to watch the eclipse in Nebraska’s wide-open spaces.
Morthala made the trip to Nebraska with her family from New Jersey.
To pass the time, the youngest of the family, Ananya Anin, swirled her sea green and bright pink-flowered scarf in the prairie breeze. Meanwhile, on that dusty dirt road, Jane and Kevin Dorweiler, daughter Sarah Dorweiler, and friends Brad Dethmers and son Jacob, dog Cal, and Amy Smith and son Mike Smith grilled chicken for lunch on a portable grill.
Just south of Pleasanton along state Highway 10, amateur photographers set up their telescopes overlooking cornfields in the Grace Lutheran Church parking lot.
Mia Lecocq and Martin Williams traveled from Belgium to view the eclipse in this little church parking lot. Armour Peterson of Rockford, Ill., and Tom Stubee of Littleton, Colo., were also among the small group.
They said they went on the weather websites and found that Nebraska had a low cloud cover percentage at noon.
"This is right about the center point of totality, and I was looking on Google Maps several months ago and I thought, ‘Nobody’s going to kick me out of a church parking lot,’" Peterson said of why he chose the locale.