Students of all ages shared a unique learning experience Monday as the moon passed slowly across the sun -- although some had a better view of it than others.
A few thousand people showed up for a watch party at the University of North Florida, which handed out 2,000 pairs of free solar glasses. It was the university's first day of school for the semester.
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Students, faculty and people from the community braved long lines and rainy weather and were rewarded with quite a show.
Right around 2:47 p.m., during peak coverage for Northeast Florida, the clouds cleared just enough to allow people to see the eclipse.
“I mean, honestly, it was breathtaking,” UNF freshman Bella Marin said. “It was really exciting to see so many people out here so excited about the same thing, seeing just the moon go over the sun. Everyone was so pumped.”
Members of the UNF physics department and their professors were out with telescopes and projected a live feed from across the country on a big screen.
Younger students in Clay County didn't have quite as good a view of the celestial event.
Students at St. Johns Classical Academy in Fleming Island were disappointed because the sky was dark and rainy during the peak time of the eclipse.
But the K-8 students said they still had a blast learning about the eclipse in the weeks leading up to the event -- and trying on the solar glasses.
“The solar eclipse, it's rare. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I'm very excited for it, because this is probably going to be one of the only times I'll see it,” fifth-grader Reid said.
Some students got a chance to look at the sun before it got too cloudy. They said they loved seeing the colors and being able to stare directly into the sun because they had eye protection.
Most students didn’t have the safety glasses so they watched a NASA livestream on a big screen inside the school’s auditorium. They even got to enjoy a jam session from one of their teachers, who played “Black Hole Sun” on his electric guitar.
“I've never seen a solar eclipse or an eclipse in general, so that was really cool to me to be able to see that redness and orange-ness of the moon being like that, so that was really cool,” eighth-grader Makayla Rigdon said.
The children inside got glow sticks and had fun with them when teachers turned the lights off. They also got some fun solar eclipse props, including Sun Chips.
Many districts around North Florida and South Georgia excused students’ absences if their parents wanted them to watch the eclipse as a family, and many districts changed their dismissal times so they wouldn't coincide with the peak time of the eclipse.
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