Thousands come to Richfield for annular solar eclipse

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More than 300,000 visitors were expected to flock to central Utah this past weekend for the annular solar eclipse.

Richfield, Utah sat directly in the path of the annular solar eclipse that took place on Oct. 14. It was one of the few cities in the nation where onlookers could best see the ring of fire. 

An annular solar eclipse crossed central Utah on Oct. 14. The eclipse produced a phenomenon commonly known as a ring of fire. (NASA)

Orem resident and astronomy hobbyist John Craig was “over the moon” about the visibility of the eclipse in Utah. He shared his love of the sky with the public and brought three telescopes with him from his home.

“We’ve got two telescopes with what we call white light filters. You can think of them as imperfect mirrors. They cut down about 99.999% of the light,” Craig said.

Craig got his first telescope when he was 10 years old and has loved astronomy ever since. 

“My parents splurged and got me and old kina junky telescope and I loved it. I used it for many years. It was a homemade job so I made some improvements to it and I used that for a long time. Now I’m old enough to indulge in the hobby and I got some nicer equipment,” Craig said.

The Tousley family traveled south to Richfield. They took advantage of the eclipse to spend time together.

“It’s a great opportunity to get together with family and see the ring of fire,” Randy Tousley said.

At 10:28 a.m on Saturday, the moon overtook the sun and the ring of fire was visible. 

“The eclipse was fantastic. It was really great to be here and share it with everybody. It’s a wonderful community event,” Craig said.

Visitors filled Richfield. People set up booths to sell eclipse memorabilia. Restaurant owners prepared for the surge of visitors by stocking up on supplies and bringing in additional employees.  

The Utah Department of Transportation predicted that there would be hours long traffic delays following the eclipse.

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