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Tommy Morgenfeld, a second-grader at Boeblingen Elementary and Middle School in Stuttgart, Germany, watches a solar eclipse Friday, March 20, 2015, with protective glasses provided by his teacher, Karen Sipes.
Tommy Morgenfeld, a second-grader at Boeblingen Elementary and Middle School in Stuttgart, Germany, watches a solar eclipse Friday, March 20, 2015, with protective glasses provided by his teacher, Karen Sipes. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)
Tommy Morgenfeld, a second-grader at Boeblingen Elementary and Middle School in Stuttgart, Germany, watches a solar eclipse Friday, March 20, 2015, with protective glasses provided by his teacher, Karen Sipes.
Tommy Morgenfeld, a second-grader at Boeblingen Elementary and Middle School in Stuttgart, Germany, watches a solar eclipse Friday, March 20, 2015, with protective glasses provided by his teacher, Karen Sipes. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)
Fourth-graders at Boeblingen Elementary and Middle School in Stuttgart, Germany, position sheets of paper to capture the reflection of the sun being eclipsed by the moon on Friday morning, March 20, 2015. Students without protective glasses used alternative means to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.
Fourth-graders at Boeblingen Elementary and Middle School in Stuttgart, Germany, position sheets of paper to capture the reflection of the sun being eclipsed by the moon on Friday morning, March 20, 2015. Students without protective glasses used alternative means to catch a glimpse of the eclipse. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)
The partial eclipse of Friday, March 20, 2015, shines through a tree at the U.S. Army's Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
The partial eclipse of Friday, March 20, 2015, shines through a tree at the U.S. Army's Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Matt Millham/Stars and Stripes)
The moon moves across the face of the sun at  10:31 a.m. during a partial solar eclipse over Kaiserslautern, Germany, on the first day of spring, Friday, March 20, 2015.
The moon moves across the face of the sun at 10:31 a.m. during a partial solar eclipse over Kaiserslautern, Germany, on the first day of spring, Friday, March 20, 2015. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Internal reflections in a camera lens create an inverted image of the Friday, March 20, 2015, partial eclipse of the sun next to an image of the actual eclipse, right.
Internal reflections in a camera lens create an inverted image of the Friday, March 20, 2015, partial eclipse of the sun next to an image of the actual eclipse, right. (Matt Millham/Stars and Stripes)
Ramstein Elementary School second-graders gather around their teacher, Yvonne Engels, to view an image of the partial solar eclipse through a handmade pinhole projector Friday morning, March 20, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Ramstein Elementary School second-graders gather around their teacher, Yvonne Engels, to view an image of the partial solar eclipse through a handmade pinhole projector Friday morning, March 20, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Ava Perez, 7, a second-grader at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, peers through the small hole of a cardboard pinhole projector at the image of the partial solar eclipse Friday morning, March 20, 2015, on Ramstein Air Base.
Ava Perez, 7, a second-grader at Ramstein Elementary School in Germany, peers through the small hole of a cardboard pinhole projector at the image of the partial solar eclipse Friday morning, March 20, 2015, on Ramstein Air Base. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Stars and Stripes employee Shane Schiermeier looks at the partial solar eclipse through a welding mask, Friday, March 20, 2015 on Kleber Kaserne, in Kaisersluatern, Germany.
Stars and Stripes employee Shane Schiermeier looks at the partial solar eclipse through a welding mask, Friday, March 20, 2015 on Kleber Kaserne, in Kaisersluatern, Germany. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
The moon moves across the face of the sun at  10:38 a.m. during a partial solar eclipse over Kaiserslautern, Germany, on the first day of spring, Friday, March 20, 2015.
The moon moves across the face of the sun at 10:38 a.m. during a partial solar eclipse over Kaiserslautern, Germany, on the first day of spring, Friday, March 20, 2015. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Marine Sgt. Kyle Morgan and Staff Sgt. Alexander Hayes look at the partial solar eclipse through a filtered lens Friday, March 20, 2015 on Kleber Kaserne, in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Marine Sgt. Kyle Morgan and Staff Sgt. Alexander Hayes look at the partial solar eclipse through a filtered lens Friday, March 20, 2015 on Kleber Kaserne, in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
A view of the partial solar eclipse Friday, March 20, 2015, in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
A view of the partial solar eclipse Friday, March 20, 2015, in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Matt Millham/Stars and Stripes)
Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Lamont projects the image of Friday's partial solar eclipse onto a poster board through a pair of binoculars. Looking on are Evan Rotramel, left, and Marshall Lamont. Evan and Marshall spent the morning of March 20, 2015, at the base pond on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, with their Ramstein Elementary School second-grade class, exploring nature and viewing the partial solar eclipse.
Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Lamont projects the image of Friday's partial solar eclipse onto a poster board through a pair of binoculars. Looking on are Evan Rotramel, left, and Marshall Lamont. Evan and Marshall spent the morning of March 20, 2015, at the base pond on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, with their Ramstein Elementary School second-grade class, exploring nature and viewing the partial solar eclipse. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Stars and Stripes employees Shane Schiermeier and James Jones look at the partial solar eclipse through a welding mask Friday, March 20, 2015 on Kleber Kaserne, in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Stars and Stripes employees Shane Schiermeier and James Jones look at the partial solar eclipse through a welding mask Friday, March 20, 2015 on Kleber Kaserne, in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
The sun's image appears as a tiny crescent moon inside the viewing hole of a cardboard pinhole projector. Yvonne Engels' second-grade class at Ramstein Elementary School spent the morning of March 20, 2015, exploring nature and viewing the partial solar eclipse over northern Europe through handmade pinhole projectors at the base pond on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The sun's image appears as a tiny crescent moon inside the viewing hole of a cardboard pinhole projector. Yvonne Engels' second-grade class at Ramstein Elementary School spent the morning of March 20, 2015, exploring nature and viewing the partial solar eclipse over northern Europe through handmade pinhole projectors at the base pond on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
The moon moves across the face of the sun at 11:12 a.m. towards the end of a partial solar eclipse over Kaiserslautern, Germany, on the first day of spring, Friday, March 20, 2015.
The moon moves across the face of the sun at 11:12 a.m. towards the end of a partial solar eclipse over Kaiserslautern, Germany, on the first day of spring, Friday, March 20, 2015. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

On a rare blue morning in Germany, Americans working and attending school at U.S. military bases throughout the country headed outdoors to view something even rarer: a solar eclipse coinciding with the spring equinox.

In Kaiserslautern, an early-morning fog threatened the sky-watching party. But by 9:30 a.m., when the moon had begun its slow glide across the sun, the celestial view was unimpeded.

Teacher Yvonne Engels and her second-graders at Ramstein Elementary School gathered on the banks of a small pond on Ramstein Air Base to view the eclipse — with their backs turned towards the sun.

Engels made two pinhole projectors out of cardboard boxes so her students could see the tiny, projected image of the eclipse without looking at the sun and risking eye damage.

“I thought it was really cool,” said Carla Lonergan, 8. “I thought the sun would turn dark, but it actually didn’t.”

The eclipse over much of northern Europe, including Germany, was only partial, meaning the moon only partly obscured the sun’s disc. The best view of the total eclipse was in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, where clear skies afforded a full view of the event, including a brief period of darkness, The Associated Press reported.

At Ramstein, the bright morning light took on a late-afternoon quality for a short time.

Students took turns watching the different phases of the equinox.

“It looked like a Pacman,” said Jack Aragona, comparing the sun’s image to the arcade game. As the eclipse progressed, Aragona revised his description: “Now the solar eclipse looks like a jelly bean or a macaroni-and- cheese (noodle).”

In Stuttgart, Tommy Morgenfeld, a second-grader at Boeblingen Elementary and Middle School, looked right at the sun with protective glasses and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He watched as the moon crossed into view, turning the sun into a crescent.

His one-word reaction: “Wow!”

Morgenfeld’s teacher, Karen Sipes, had a handful of protective glasses that students were able to pass back and forth on Friday as they watched the solar eclipse under perfectly clear skies.

Other students used alternative means.

Jennifer L’Esperance, a fourth-grade teacher at Boeblingen, came up with a way of using sheets of white and yellow paper to safely observe the eclipse.

When positioned at the proper angle, the paper enabled L’Esperance’s students to see the reflection of the moon crossing the sun as it cast a shadow on the paper. Other students, with backs turned to the sun, used more primitive means, holding up both hands with overlapping fingers at right angles.

“We had to have a crash course in astronomy,” L’Esperance said.

This was the Earth’s first and only total solar eclipse of the year and the first one since November 2013, according to NASA. The next solar eclipse in the United States will be in August 2017. The next lunar eclipse is April 4. The next partial eclipse over Germany will occur Oct. 25, 2022, while the next total eclipse over Germany is Sept. 3, 2081.

svan.jennifer@stripes.comvandiver.john@stripes.com

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