July 19, 2024

Chasing The Eclipse 

Beatrice, Nebraska



 Eclipse Beatrice Nebraska

Eclipse America 2017 is now history. The watch parties are over.  The crowds have returned home. Traffic patterns have, hopefully, returned to normal.  The eclipse of 2017 was very possibly the most-watched solar event in history.  I’m based in Kansas City which was very close to the “Path of Totality.” None-the-less I made a short journey – a road trip –  further northward to Nebraska.  I wanted to get the “Full Eclipse Effect”  – the rare opportunity to experience a total eclipse – the “Totality Experience” where the sun is completely covered by the moon.  To get the once in a lifetime view I joined friends from Michigan in Beatrice, Nebraska for Eclipse Weekend.

Beatrice, Nebraska was just about dead center in the Path of Totality for the eclipse.  (For more on the path of the eclipse and the location of Beatrice you can read Road Trip To Darkness. ) Beatrice had been planning for the eclipse event for some time.  It was a great weekend. Lots of people and activities.  And loads of fun!


The road to Beatrice tends to be a bit flat, as is most of Nebraska.

Road To Beatrice

Nebraska Sign

Entering Beatrice you will see this sign (below)  At first I was a bit confused.  12,518?  Is that the altitude or the population?   Then I came back to reality.  This is Nebraska.  There are no mountains. No place in Nebraska comes even close to 12,518 feet in altitude. (A bit of subsequent research revealed that Panorama Point is the highest natural point in Nebraska, at an elevation of 5,429 feet (1,655 m).) So “Beatrice – 12,518”  is a population statement. Beatrice is relatively small.

Beatrice sign


Main Street Beatrice.  A small but friendly town.



Many Eclipse Visitors camped out at the Gage County Fairgrounds while visiting Nebraska.  Some, including myself, in recreational vehicles of various shapes and sizes.



Others pitched tents and camped in a more traditional manner.



Friday evening, August 18th, everyone attended the Stock Car Championship Races at the Beatrice Speedway – also located at the fair grounds.

speedway sign

Action Packed, Noisy and Lots of Fun

Race welcome

Race car

Race Winner


The weather was warm -well –  OK, it was HOT!  The local water park provided some much needed relief.

Pool There was a lot going on.  Want some breakfast?   How about the Pancake Breakfasts offered by various service organizations around town.



If you already had breakfast, you could pick up snacks throughout the day at the many food trucks in the area.

food truck


Need a T-Shirt to let everyone know you saw the Eclipse?  Dawg’s Hut was selling them as quickly as they could make them.  




Homestead National Monument is just west of Beatrice.  It commemorates the passage of the Homestead Act in 1882.

Monument sign


 The Education Center at the Monument was a focus of many eclipse activities including presentations by scientists and astronomers including speakers from NASA and Bill Nye “The Science Guy” who is currently the head of The Planetary Society.  

bus stop sign


 Thousands of visitors gathered at the Monument on Monday to view the eclipse.  To avoid traffic problems and congestion  at the monument which has limited parking, Beatrice provided shuttle bus service to the monument from the fairgrounds.  Lots of people took advantage of the shuttles – the lines were long!





Bus lineup


Homestead National Monument Entrance On Eclipse Weekend



A very nice little community of campers and eclipse watchers grew at the fairgrounds over the weekend. 



People came from far and wide – Canada, Minnesota, California, Michigan, Alabama, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Mexico – I even met a person from Russia!

One of my camping “neighbors” – a fellow photographer and drone pilot came from Sioux City Iowa.  He’s setting up with a filter over the lens of his Nikon.



Another “camping neighbor” from came from Atlanta, Georgia.  He’s setting up and calibrating his 6+ inch telescope



My friends from Michigan joined the camping community.  They are practicing their safe eclipse viewing protocol – all wearing their safe viewing glasses of course.

Perry Watchers 5399 - 2


I even got in on the action.  Here I am practicing my OMG look – glasses in place.

BWB agog


Finally it was time for THE EVENT – THE ECLIPSE – the reason we had all converged on Beatrice, Nebraska.  The day started out clear but became increasingly cloudy as eclipse time approached.  Fortunately, the clouds were scattered and broken, allowing everyone to have clear views of all portions of the eclipse from onset through totality.  In fact, the clouds seemed in some ways to enhance the otherworldly quality of the spectacle.

 – Partial Eclipse Image –                                                                                                     I was in Beatrice primarily for the experience.  I didn’t have any high tech, specialized equipment for photography.  The image of the partial eclipse below was taken with my pocket sized Lumix / Panasonic camera. I cut out one lens filter from a pair of eclipse glasses and taped it over the camera lens.



– Totality Image –                                                                                                           During totality there was no need for lens or eye protection.  The totality image was captured during an opening in the encircling clouds.

Eclipse 2017 Totality


Eclipse Beatrice Nebraska

Everyone had a great time on Eclipse Weekend in Beatrice.  A big “Thank You” to everyone in Beatrice who helped make all the visitors feel welcome.  After the eclipse the camping community slowly started to pack up and fade away.  By Monday night almost three fourths of the campers had broken camp and were headed for home.  They only faced one more memorable feature of the eclipse weekend – the really, really heavy traffic on highways as everyone headed home at the same time.  There were some very truly memorable traffic jams on America’s highways and byways.

My plan was a bit different.  I decided  to  stay one more night in Nebraska.  I sat outside next to my camp and sipped a cool drink as I  watched one more beautiful Nebraska sunset.  It was a good plan –  a very pleasant end to a great weekend.



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