LORETTO – Hundreds of people gathered on the campus mall at St. Francis University to catch a glimpse of Monday afternoon's solar eclipse, taking a look through solar glasses, binoculars with special filters and a Sunspotter on site.

Sharon Zoskey, Alicia Walters and Patricia Zoskey of Lilly grabbed their lawn chairs and solar glasses picked up from a local library to watch what was coined the Great American Eclipse, the first seen across the United States from west to east in nearly 100 years.

"It's a historical event," Patricia Zoskey said.

Lanika Ruzhitskaya, director of the university's Science Outreach Center, helped organize the event, but traveled to Missouri to see the eclipse on the path of totality, a strip about 70 miles wide where the moon was projected to block about 80 percent of the sun.

Although Pennsylvania wasn't on that path, the university saw more crowds than expected.

"It's an unusual event and it covers the United States, so everyone can come out and see it," said Michael Sell, project coordinator with the university's Institute for Energy.

Marissa Kagarise of Duncansville attended a space-inspired art class where Ruzhitskaya mentioned the viewing event and decided to bring family members along for the experience.

"I've been so excited for it," she said. "I think it's so cool."

The eclipse started just after 1:15 p.m. and continued until about 2:45 p.m., with many using homemade devices made of cereal and other types of boxes, while some even took a peek using welding masks.

Chris Rader of Cresson had his own viewing device that he constructed based on recommendations from NASA and other websites that took him about 20 minutes, using aluminum foil and plain white paper.

Although Monday's solar eclipse was the first over the United States in about 38 years, Rader said he's seen others in different parts of the world and was interested in seeing one close to home.

"I'm pretty excited about this one," he said.

"The light just gets so weird. Any shadow just becomes an image of the eclipse. It just feels unworldly."

​Jocelyn Brumbaugh is a reporter for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @JBrumbaughTD.

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