A 90-year-old Iowa woman visiting western Missouri’s St. Joseph this week has experienced her fifth total solar eclipse. Joyce Blum says her trip has been well worth Monday’s two-and-a-half minutes of darkness.

Iowa woman visits western Missouri for her fifth total eclipse

“As it goes into the eclipse, it’s very different from one eclipse to another,” Blum tells Radio Iowa affiliate KLMJ of Hampton. “And what happens when it’s total, sometimes there’s huge, huge — they call it the diamond ring that goes out and it’s fantastic. That’s when the sun is doing a lot of fire, but it looks like a diamond ring when it’s total.”

A 1994 visit to the Andes Mountains in South America is Blum’s first experience of the moon blocking the sun. Her late brother worked for McDonnell Douglas and was a project manager for the moon landing in 1969. He became friends with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.

“The group that planned this trip were the astronauts that made it to the moon and they’re very interesting people,” Blum says. “We got to meet all the astronauts on each of the eclipse trips, but that first one was special because we were in these high, high mountains, we were ready for 20 below.”

Blum’s other eclipse experiences include a 1994 trip to the Andes Mountains in South America, the South China Sea, the Caribbean and the Black Sea.

(Reporting by Brian Fancher, KLMJ, Hampton, Iowa)