MARION COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Hundreds of students and faculty at Fairmont State University gathered in the heart of campus Monday, to witness the celestial event of a lifetime.
"I've never seen a turn out like this to something one of the departments is putting on," said Rachel Ball, an FSU student. "This is great."
Professors brought out telescopes and students scrambled to get their hands on the approved eclipse eyeglasses--more than 400 glasses were provided.
"Celestial beauties like this don't happen very often and when they do, they're usually impossible to see," Stephen Shingleton, a student, remarked. "So actually having a chance to look at this--it's amazing."
Although the region wasn't in the path of totality--the maximum coverage in Fairmont was about 85 percent--the Mountain State hasn't experienced an eclipse of this magnitude since 1994.
"What's so special about this is the fact that the Moon isn't on a set orbit, as far as on a set plain--it's actually a five degree incline to the Earth's sun plain...so it only happens every once in a while, which it all lines up, the Earth, the Moon, Sun on that plain," Travis Miller, STEM Learning Coordinator at FSU, explained. "That's whenever you get a solar eclipse or a lunar eclipse."
The eclipse reached its peak in Fairmont at about 2:36 p.m., as the sky resembled a late fall afternoon.
When the watch party began at 1 p.m., cloud cover in the area had some professors worried the visibility would be impacted.
Fortunately, those clouds dissipated, but erratic weather could impact how you see the next solar eclipse--in 2024.