Kira 7, and Dax, 8, Scholl of Cape Elizabeth wear protective glasses as they watch the eclipse through the sunroof of a vehicle at the Eastern Prom on Monday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

While thousands of people traveled to western and northern Maine to see the moon completely cover the sun on Monday, others gazed up at the sky from Portland, where the view was a little less complete – but still a spectacle.

Portland is roughly 100 miles, or 2½ hours, south of the lower edge of the path of totality, which stretched from Mexico into Canada. At the peak of the eclipse, around 3:30 p.m., the moon covered 96.4% of the sun in Portland.

Dozens of people watched from the Western Promenade. Hospital staff in scrubs gathered on the lawn outside Maine Medical Center. People brought lawn chairs and blankets, and others walked along the sidewalk or claimed their own spots on the grassy areas beside it.

“I heard 3:31 p.m.,” one woman said to her walking companion, seven minutes before the eclipse peaked.

People in the crowd hooted and applauded at exactly that moment, when the sun was just a sliver in the sky. Soon after, they started to disperse.

Kyle Ross and Jaina Neri, both 26, of Portland, enjoyed the view from their lawn chairs.


“Our plan was to drive to the path of totality, but we didn’t want to deal with the traffic,” Neri said.

“I think I caught the bug,” Ross said. He had already looked up when the next nearby solar eclipse will be – in 2045. “I can see why people chase these things.”


On the other side of the city, around 250 people sat in beach chairs and on picnic blankets on the Eastern Promenade at 3:20 p.m.

As the peak of the eclipse neared, the temperature started to fall and the bright, cloudless sky became faded and dusk-like.

Minute by minute, more people trickled into the area to see the eclipse at its peak.


Mary Macaluso and Sam Lasher sat under a cream-colored blanket they’d pulled up to their necks. They had brought it to use on the ground but decided to use it for warmth as the temperature dropped.

“It’s pretty crazy to see the light like this this time of day,” said Macaluso, looking at the sky.

Ed Hurley, 72, sat in a beach chair, waiting. The Portland resident periodically put down the magazine he was reading to take a look at the sky.

“It’s the perfect day, and so far it’s been spectacular,” he said of the solar eclipse. “It’s just so pretty.”

Sam Lasher and Mary Macaluso, both of Westbrook, watch the eclipse from the Eastern Prom with their dog Ellis on Monday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Angie Clancy, 32, took off a day of work so she could watch the eclipse. She wore dangly earrings with three small planets on them.

In the past year, the Portland resident has learned a lot about astronomy. She became interested in it listening to a podcast about black holes. But she had not seen an eclipse before.


“So the timing of this eclipse worked out pretty well for me,” she said from her blanket.

Nora Prescott, 70, had her arms crossed and eyes on the sky.

“I’m gonna be 71 in September so I’ll never live long enough to see another one,” she said.


In South Portland, hundreds gathered at Bug Light Park to watch the eclipse from the wide open field at the edge of Casco Bay. Some arrived early, picnicking, playing ball or flying kites before the celestial event.

As the eclipse began, all parking areas near the lighthouse were full.


“That’s so cool,” said Jae Casella, 65, viewing the advancing eclipse through the shaded lens of a Canon digital camera.

Casella is semi-retired and took the day off to fully enjoy the eclipse, settling into a camp chair beside a Ford pickup truck.

“I’m a nature photographer and a total nature freak,” Casella confessed. “I love being outdoors and near the water, so this is the perfect spot to watch. Plus, it’s a beautiful day.”

Elsewhere in South Portland, Liz Carlson, 45, stood in her front yard wearing eclipse glasses, face turned to the sky. She works from home for a health insurance company and took a few minutes off to observe.

As the eclipse neared totality, the light around her dimmed. Shadows lengthened and intensified. A breeze kicked up and the air chilled.

“It’s very eerie,” Carlson said. “It’s just an incredible thing.”

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