Viewing eclipse with loved ones a special experience for McGregor resident

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McGregor resident Diane Benson, with dog Tootie, enjoyed witnessing the Aug. 21 solar eclipse with her “adopted niece and nephew,” Justice and Jasmine Olmstead. The group shared a pair of eclipse glasses, which can be seen on Justice. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Millions of Americans turned their eyes toward the sky Aug. 21 to witness the historic total solar eclipse, the first since 1918 to stretch from the west coast to the east coast. While many traveled to a portion of the country in the “path of totality,” meaning the moon entirely blocked the sun, others chose to watch from northeast Iowa, where around 85 percent of the sun was blocked by the moon.

Among them was McGregor resident Diane Benson, who experienced the site with who she calls her “adopted niece and nephew,” Justice and Jasmine Olmstead.

Justice, 13, and Jasmine, 10, live outside Prairie du Chien, and have visited family friend Benson at her home on Ash Street throughout the summer. Luckily, they were visiting the day of the eclipse.

Benson said the group began watching the eclipse at 1 p.m., around 10 minutes before its peak time. They shared a pair of eclipse glasses, which contained a special solar filter to protect their eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.

“It was really cool,” said Justice, a statement younger sister Jasmine echoed. He said he especially enjoyed using Benson’s iPhone to take a photo of the eclipse through the solar glasses.

“It was so fascinating,” Benson shared. “I wouldn’t have missed it. To have the kids here, to share it with someone who means something to me, it was special.”

“I could have put the glasses on Tootie,” Benson joked about her dog, “but she wouldn’t have said it was cool.”

The United States will experience its next total solar eclipse in April 2024, but this one will stretch from Texas to Maine.

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