Eclipse 2017: Cheers, celebrations from thousands at Homestead monument in Beatrice

HOMESTEAD NATIONAL MONUMENT, Neb. (KMTV) - Precisely 1:02 p.m.: The moment eagerly awaited by thousands who've traveled from the far corners of the U.S. to witness the breath taking view of the total solar eclipse.

"I saw an almost-total solar eclipse almost 40 years ago on Cape Cod, and it was so profound and so moving that from a perspective of 40 years later, I'm curious to see if it touches me the same way," said Lee Wolfson who drove 7 1/2 hours from northern Minnesota to witness the eclipse.

But just minutes before the total solar eclipse, it appeared Mother Nature wasn't working in our favor.

"I was just sitting there disappointed that the clouds were going over and it was just going to be a wash out and it rained a couple times I just thought it was going to be bad," said Clark Hauschildt, who came from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Then, during the final countdown to totality, the clouds parted, and the crowds cheered.

"It got dark quickly and then it started to light up and everybody around me was screaming it was — it gave me shivers," said Holly Brandt of Pella, Iowa. She drove 4 1/2 to Beatrice with her family.

"Oh, it's incredible I'll never forget it," said Carl Vartian of Houston, Texas. Vartian came to the Homestead National Monument of America to celebrate his birthday today.

Beyond the two minutese or so of totality here at the park...there was music, science demonstrations with NASA and of course, Bill Nye the science guy.

"One word I'd say: 'astronomical,' " said Jimmy Bohn of Minnesota.

For the thousands who made the great road trip to the Cornhusker state, it will be a day not soon forgotten.

"I'm going to love it so much I'm probably going to be spoiled and become a chaser from now on," said Joe Abraham, an amateur astronomer from Houston, Texas.

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