Published 5:27 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Crystal Whigham stood outside the library Monday afternoon, clutching a tablet in her left hand playing NASA television and using her glasses to gaze at the solar eclipse passing overhead.

She was in awe. Tears welled up in her eyes just talking about it.

“In light of everything that is going on, it really just grounds you and lets you know God is in control,” Whigham said. “This is just his way of showing us that this is Earth. We are all here, we are all people, regardless of who is in the White House, regardless of who you are, who I am. We are here.”

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Whigham made T-shirts for her twin sons to wear to Elcan-King Elementary on Monday that read “My First Eclipse.” But for Whigham, 39, this was her first one too. She had thought about just staying inside and watching it happen on the news, but the spectacle was too alluring.

“I said no way, I’ve got to go outside,” Whigham said. “I got the glasses, I’m on my way. I didn’t even go to work today.”

Whigham was just one of dozens of people, young and old, of all races and creeds, watching the eclipse from the ground in Bainbridge. The last time an eclipse that was visible across the whole U.S. had passed was Feb. 26, 1979.

To help encourage viewings of the momentous occasion, the Gilbert H. Gragg held a viewing party and handed out free eclipse glasses to the first 100 people who came. The parking lot was filled with people enjoying the view, including Bainbridge Public Safety officers and city councilmen Kregg Close and Don Whaley.

Georgia was one of 14 states that was in position to see the totality of the eclipse, meaning the sun was completely blocked by the moon with only a shining ring of light around it.

The eclipse peaked around 2:40 p.m., and that’s when the most amount of people in Bainbridge stepped outside to take a look toward the sky. All across the city, people could be seen looking up with a special pair of glasses that were handed out at the library, to the schools and sold at a few places around town.

At the Earle May Boat Basin, a group of Bainbridge High School students sat on a blanket and gazed at the astronomical spectacle.

Some in the group were not too impressed, like Emily Chambers, but she liked that it brought all her friends together.

Lauren Howard disagreed.

“I was content with it,” she said, “because you could say that you got to watch a solar eclipse happen.”

“It was worth it,” added Lelia Wolfe.