CLEMSON, South Carolina – Viewers from California to Connecticut and Slovakia to Israel reported feelings of awe and amazement after watching darkness fall on Tigertown at 2:37 p.m. during the total solar eclipse.

The fully eclipsed sun inspired cheers and applause from onlookers on Clemson’s campus. Some students erupted into Clemson’s time-honored cadence count, and words like “cool” and “amazing” were heard throughout the crowd.

Susana hugs her son, who is in the middle of she and her husband.

Susana Vilela (left) with her son, Marcelo Quinones-Vilela, and husband, Marcelo Quinones (right).
Image Credit: Hannah Halusker / Clemson University

Here is what some had to say after experiencing the 2 minutes and 37 seconds of totality:

Susana Vilela of Fayetteville, Georgia, could hardly believe her eyes.

“I’ve never seen something like that. I’ve seen a couple eclipses without totality, but this was more than I expected. I cannot describe it. I was concentrated on totality, and I was impressed by how darkness came suddenly. For me, it was unbelievable.”

Roger and Catherine Harvey, a father-daughter duo from Concord, North Carolina, have experienced eight total solar eclipses between them. Catherine said:

catherine and roger sit outside on the watt center lawn

Catherine Harvey (left) and her father, Roger Harvey.
Image Credit: Hannah Halusker / Clemson University

“My dad and I chose to come to Clemson because it was really close to the path of totality and because we like your football team. This is my third eclipse and his fifth eclipse. My first one was when I was 10 years old. For the next one, I was living in Austria at the time, and my parents came to visit and watch the eclipse together. And now this is my third. It was completely transforming. I think it is just such a unique experience to be able to have when you’re on the face of this planet. I get that tingly feeling every time I see one.”

Catherine’s father, Roger, said the eclipse felt almost like being born again.

“Standing there during totality, it’s like you’re watching the solar system form. It’s just like magic; it’s unlike anything else you can do on this planet.”

Maureen and Guy Meador of Lawrenceville, Georgia, took their kids out of school for the day to watch the eclipse as a family. Maureen said:

Meador/Malena family pose together on watt center lawn

Top row from left: Al Malena, Guy Meadorn and Janet Meador. Bottom row: Maureen Meador, Fiona Meador and Matthew Malena.
Image Credit: Hannah Halusker / Clemson University

“The schools where we’re from wanted to pull the kids for an extra hour after school so they could all watch the eclipse safely together in one big place with their glasses. But we just felt like if we wanted the real educational experience of a lifetime, we needed to come here for their sake, and for ours. It was wonderful and amazing. I was trying to describe it to my sisters who were not watching the full experience of totality, and I kept using the word ‘amazing.’ The moment between partial and total eclipse, it went from being: ‘This is really cool,’ to ‘Wow!’ ”

Guy added:

“It was fantastic experiencing God’s wonderful creation, and that’s why we’re here.”

The Meadors’ family friend and former neighbor, Al Malena, came along to watch the eclipse in Clemson with his son. 

“It really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. My wife and daughter missed it because they had to be home. I just texted her and said we have to go find the next one and make sure we get there to see it.”

Al’s son, Matthew, said the eclipse was the coolest thing he’s ever seen.

“This is honestly the most phenomenal thing I’ve seen in my life. It might be the most breathtaking thing I will ever see in my life. It was 2 in the afternoon, yet it was almost as dark as it was at 2 in the morning. It’s insane. I was excited to see what the sun actually looked like behind the moon, and it ended up looking like the sun just turned black.”

rebecca and dann sit in lawn chairs on the watt center lawn

Rebecca Carnes (left) and her husband, Dann Carnes.
Image Credit: Hannah Halusker / Clemson University

Rebecca Carnes, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, intends to use the eclipse to usher in the next phase of her life with her husband.

“We’ve been through a lot of recession years in our business, and we’re emerging from that but it’s been a tough 10 years. We are 64 years old, so we’re kind of on the brink of what we hope is a positive part of our lives. It seems like this kind of event is heralding in better times. That’s how we feel, and that’s how we’re going to see it anyway. We’re washing away the tough stuff and opening doors to a new perspective.”

Dann, Rebecca’s husband, said the eclipse could serve as an example of how people can come together for a common experience amid the discontent in the world.

allen sits in a lawn chair wearing a yellow polo shirt

Allen Rolnick of Woodmere, New York.
Image Credit: Hannah Halusker / Clemson University

“That togetherness can be replicated in dealing with what needs to happen now to push back against the political climate. A lot of people are suffering because of it and it’s gotten to a point where we have to come together and contribute in whatever way we can with whatever our strengths are to make an impact.”

The eclipse was the second total solar eclipse for Allen Rolnick of Woodmere, New York.

Josh and quincy stand side by side holding pinhole projector

Quincy Acklen (right) and his son, Josh, with their pinhole projector.
Image Credit: Hannah Halusker / Clemson University

“The last time I saw a total eclipse, I was on a beach with fewer people. Somebody had a big boombox, and as soon as the sun came back, they blasted ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ which was very dramatic. That was March 1970. My daughter was two months’ short of being born. We drove all night and slept on the beach – this time we opted for a hotel. I already told my friend who lives in upstate New York to save a room for me for the next eclipse.”

Quincy Acklen, a space enthusiast from Roswell, Georgia, watched the eclipse with his whole family. He and his son, Josh, assembled a pinhole projector out of cardboard, duct tape and paper in the hours leading up to totality.

“Seeing the prominences and how big they were, and how totality changed from start to finish, was really cool. You see pictures of it and you don’t know if that’s what it’s going to look like for real. Did they just pick the best image of a million images they had to choose from? So seeing it with your own eyes really makes all the difference. At the very end, before the sun peaked back around, you really could make out the bright, sparkly things from the craters of the moon that were Baily’s beads. I had only read about those before, so that was really neat. I knew to look for it, but I still didn’t quite expect it. It was a really neat experience that’ll be hard to replace.”