GLEN ELLYN – Clouds parted long enough for College of DuPage junior Dan O'Malley to get a glimpse of the much-hyped total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
"It was kind of like the sun was slowly disappearing," said the Darien resident, who along with hundreds of other people, attended a solar eclipse viewing event at College of DuPage. "I honestly thought that the sky was going to become a lot darker than it was. I thought the sun was going to be blocked out more than it was. It was a good experience."
Despite the cloudy conditions, O'Malley said he was excited about being on hand to witness such a rare phenomenon. The last coast-to-coast total solar eclipse – in which the moon completely hides the solar surface or photosphere and thereby cuts off all direct rays of sunlight – occurred in 1918.
"I kind of like the clouds," O'Malley said. "It helps make it easier to see. You can look up without needing any glasses."
O'Malley knows how much the solar eclipse had been hyped. He works at a computer store in Westmont, and the store sold out of solar eclipse glasses months ago.
COD sophomore David Knake of Western Springs said he was lucky to find some solar eclipse glasses.
"I bought them for $5 a piece," Knake said. "On eBay, they were selling for $699, which blows my mind."
Knake was still waiting for the clouds to lift so he could see the eclipse, even though he knew those in the Chicago area would only see a partial eclipse.
"We won't be able to see the rings of the solar flares coming off the sun from behind the moon," he said. "Unfortunately, we can't see that, but I was just hoping to see it get darker. I think it would be a really cool experience, considering how rare it is."
Jeff Kytta of Aurora had planned to go downstate to get a better view of the eclipse, but too many other people had the same idea.
"You couldn't get any hotels or anything like that," said Kytta, who also is taking classes at COD. "Actually, my fiancee was just driving down to Bourbonnais, and she [encountered] a big traffic jam because of the eclipse. It's got to be crazy down there."
Kytta didn't have any solar eclipse glasses, which health officials warned were the best way to watch the eclipse in order to protect viewers' eyes. Instead, he had a pair of sunglasses.
"They don't really help, but I thought they would be better than nothing," he said.
Kytta was able to borrow some solar eclipse glasses from other people who attended the viewing event, and he was impressed with what he saw.
"It's more impressive if you know that it's coming the closest in North America in like a hundred years," he said. "We had never seen it in our lifetime, and now I got to see it. And now I can die happy."