While Charleston and the southern Midlands had cloud cover, Columbia, Piedmont and Greenville-Anderson regions had a great view of totality during Monday’s solar eclipse. Even Charleston residents got to watch the sky suddenly grow dark.
Many came from out-of-state — or even out of the country. Anthony Constantine, of South Hadley, Massachusetts said he and his friends originally planned to watch the eclipse from the beach, but changed their plans after noticing weather reports this weekend.
“I became the weatherman for a day and tried to predict where there wouldn’t be clouds,” he joked. “We lucked out. It was honestly one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I did projects in school and stuff like that. And it’s just cool to kind of put one and one together.”
Constantine traveled to South Carolina with friends Lauren St. Jean, Jorge Rivera, and Roberto Carrasquillo said they piled into a car around midnight Monday to arrive at Columbia’s Finlay Park in just enough time to watch the eclipse begin.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” St. Jean said. “Memorable. I think this was very memorable. We’re not from around here. So a good 13-14 hour car ride down to get here.”
“Very much worth it,” Rivera said. “Would love to come see this again.”
The eclipse itself lasted nearly three hours. But the good part — totality — lasted a little over two minutes for most of the areas where it was visible.
Many of those in downtown Columbia on Monday lived outside South Carolina. It seems the locals largely stayed at home to watch.
Delaware middle-school science teacher Brian Drake admitted he’d got permission from superiors to skip Monday’s first day back in order to bring his family to see the first cross-country eclipse since 1918.
“This is everything I wanted it to be,” he said. “I have been looking forward to seeing a full solar eclipse for pretty much my entire life. And… here I am in South Carolina. I got to do it.”
He said he’s already planning to watch the next American eclipse in 2024 — as it passes from Texas to western Pennsylvania and New York.
For South Carolinians, next time they’ll have to actually leave the state to watch.