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Thousands flood UA mall for once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse

The next solar eclipse in the USA will happen in 2044
Solar Eclipse Spectators
Posted at 5:32 PM, Apr 08, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It was a spectacle with weeks of anticipation — a solar eclipse swept across the country Monday morning and afternoon, including here in southern Arizona where spectators got the chance to see 75% coverage of the sun during its peak.

Upwards of 5,000 people poured out to the University of Arizona for the once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event.

"It is just fun to see, it’s a big event. It feels like we’re supposed to be here," said Liam Visser, who was viewing the eclipse.

The excitement was evident across campus, with another spectator saying, "It’s just a really exciting event."

Monday's solar eclipse event was so rare it has only happened twice in the United States this century, with the previous time occurring in 2017.

Lucas Snyder, a planetarium specialist at the Flandrau Planetarium, said, "It makes me happy to see people get excited about the things I’m excited about all the time."

Despite the threat from cloud cover in southern Arizona, most were thin and didn't impede the viewing experience.

"Thin clouds, beautiful weather. Just a great day to view what we can here in Tucson," said the planetarium's coordinating director, Nick Letson.

While millions across the country got to see a total solar eclipse, the 75 percent coverage for Tucson was still a sight to behold for viewing spectators.

Large crowds pulled out telescopes, cameras, lawn chairs and glasses to soak in an event many may never experience again.

"It’s really cool. It’s really humbling in a way too, you know what I mean," said Naser Alfailakawi. "These huge celestial objects [are] at play and you can’t do anything about it, it’s happening."

With the last total solar eclipse for the United States happening in 2017 and the next one not happening until 2044, some spectators are already looking ahead.

"Knowing my experience from seeing it in 2017, I know next time I’m definitely going to take a little visit down to somewhere, wherever it is, and go see it," said Adin Fritzler, a spectator who saw the 2017 eclipse.

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Kenny Darr is a reporter for KGUN 9. He joined the team in January 2023. Before arriving in Arizona he was an Anchor and Reporter at KADN in Lafayette, LA. Share your story ideas with Kenny by emailing kenny.darr@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.