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Local media report on USM eclipse events

Crowds came to USM's Portland campus to view the solar eclipse Monday

The Portland Press Herald reported on the vast number of spectators who gathered at USM’s Southworth Planetarium to view the Great American Eclipse on Monday.

An estimated few hundred people came to USM’s Portland campus on Monday, equipped with special eclipse-viewing glasses to view the celestial event outside, or to stream NASA’s live-feed of the eclipse inside, the Press Herald reported.

People began to arrive on campus around 1 p.m., where they could watch the sky or use a high-powered telescope to get a glimpse of the eclipse up close.

Edward Gleason, an astronomer and manager of the USM Southworth Planetarium, spoke with reporters about the significance of Monday’s eclipse, which in Maine covered about 58 percent of the sun’s diameter.

Gleason said the last solar eclipse with a totality path extending from the Pacific to the Atlantic — as Monday’s did — occurred in 1918. The eclipse was called the “Great American Eclipse” because it was the first to have a totality path visible only on U.S. soil since 1257, he said.

“That was before this Republic was established,” Gleason told reporters. “We’ve seen a few partial solar eclipses here in Maine over the last 15 years, but none of them generated the interest of this one because it was such a rare event.”

The last time a total eclipse was visible anywhere in Maine was 1963, Gleason said, but Mainers will have the chance to see a total solar eclipse visible in western and northern Maine on April 8, 2024, Gleason said.

“Today was a nice dress rehearsal for 2024,” Gleason said. “We’ll begin planning for that one in 2020.”

Following 2024, the next time a total eclipse will be visible in Maine will be in 2079, in the southern part of the state.

Portland station WCSH 6 also reported on USM’s solar eclipse events.