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Hundreds come out in Roanoke to see solar eclipse

Local astronomy club and science museum hosted viewings

ROANOKE, Va. – Hundreds of people came out on Monday afternoon in the Star City to get a glimpse of the solar eclipse.

Roanoke wasn’t in the path of totality, only seeing about 90 percent coverage of the sun, but all eyes were on the sky downtown.

The Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society gave people the chance to look at the sun through a telescope.

"People will say ‘wow’ when they see the rings of Saturn. They'll say the same thing when they look in the sunspots if they haven't seen it. They'll say the same thing when they see the moon encroaching on the sun. And what it can do is it can set people up for a lifelong career," Frank Baratta, the former president of the Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society, said.

After today, children we spoke with say that may be a possibility.

"We thought it was actually pretty cool because I haven't seen one ever," 10-year-old Andrew Makhene said.

For others, this was the second time they've seen a solar eclipse.

"I was in high school in 1979 and in Michigan. I don't know what percentage we had. Maybe 35 percent. Who knows?" Joe Black said.

Black brought a newspaper from 1979 to prove it.

"It says 'a souvenir page, won't happen again until the year 2017 on our continent,' so back then we didn't think that year would ever come but it looks as though it has," Black said.

AIt was a second chance at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he says he's not done yet.

"I’m blessed to really have taken in two of them. I was pretty young in 1970 when we had a partial eclipse but in 2024, I’m going for all the gusto. We're going to go up to Ohio and we're hitting 100 percent. It'll be '100 percent or bust' on that day," Black said.