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DENISON, Iowa -- A couple of eclipse notes to round out the work week...

Robert Lyons, of Denison, Iowa, stood in line on Monday at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., waiting to peek at the eclipse through a behemoth observatory telescope.

Forty-five minutes into his wait, officials stopped the line, and explained there would a be delay of 15-20 minutes as a group of special guests would be arriving to view the solar eclipse, the first of such totality in 99 years.

"NASA officials wouldn't say who the guest would be," said Lyons, who moved to Washington last week to begin work on a master's degree at American University. "And then the Secret Service showed up and they wouldn't talk, of course."

As Lyons waited, Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Trump, came around the corner. Lyons hollered her name. She turned and waved as he took a photo.

Ivanka Trump, who was joined by a family (Lyons didn't know the family by sight), used the telescope for 10 minutes before departing. Again, Lyons yelled "Ivanka" and she turned and waved.

"I just got to D.C. last week," said Lyons, who was graduated from Simpson College in Indianola this spring. "I guess this was my first big celebrity or political sighting."

Actually, it was one in the same.

Lyons, who served as class president and student body president at Simpson, then stepped up to peer at the eclipse through the giant telescope, one equipped with a view-finder the size and shape of a flower pot.

"You could see the shadow of the sun and six black spots in the sun, which are solar storms," he said.

The planetarium was set up to show what the eclipse looked like across the rest of the country. Lyons, who seeks a master's in public administration, then headed to the National Mall to watch the rest of the eclipse.

"I was on the Mall to see what Washington got, which was an 88-percent eclipse," said Lyons, son of Don and Jane Lyons, of Denison.

Meantime, in St. Joseph, Missouri, tens of thousands of scientists, travelers and eclipse enthusiasts gathered for their chance to witness totality, which was expected in this city shortly after 1 p.m.

Kevin Brasser, a 30-year teaching veteran at South O'Brien High School in Paullina, Iowa, counted himself among the masses. Brasser was there to take a mix of light and temperature readings for NASA.

Unfortunately, a band of clouds moved in late Monday morning over St. Joseph and rained on the parade, literally.

"It was rainy and cloudy during the eclipse, so I had to put my sensors in the van," said Brasser, a 1986 Northwestern College graduate. "I didn't get any decent data to up-link to NASA."

Brasser, who is part of a citizen-observer network that volunteers for various NASA efforts, noted how dark it became for about three minutes shortly after 1 o'clock. Sadly, he just couldn't see the eclipse because of the clouds.

"At 1:08 p.m. I'd say it was spooky, the kind of darkness you see at 10 p.m." Brasser said.



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