Across US, historic eclipse turns day into night

  • The moon covers the sun during a total eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, near Redmond, Ore. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

  • Ann Kim Tenhor, of Arlington, Mass., uses protective eclipse glasses to view a partial solar eclipse, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass. AP Photo/Steven Senne

  • A crowd reacts as clouds move to reveal a partial solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in New York. AP Photo/Michael Noble Jr.

  • A near total solar eclipse is seen over midtown Atlanta, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. AP Photo/David Goldman

  • Belen Jesuit Preparatory School students look through solar glasses as they watch the eclipse, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in Miami. AP Photo/Alan Diaz

  • Maliq Trigg, a senior at the new Frederick Douglass High School, took an iPhone photo through his safety glasses as he watched the solar eclipse in Thoroughbred Park, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. Lexington Herald-Leader via AP/Ron Garrison

  • A crowd gathers in front of the Hollywood sign at the Griffith Observatory to watch the solar eclipse in Los Angeles on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. AP Photo/Richard Vogel

  • The moon almost eclipses the sun during a near total solar eclipse as seen from Salem, Ore., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. AP Photo/Don Ryan

  • The moon is seen as it starts passing in front of the sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, in Washington on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. NASA via AP)/Bill Ingalls

  • Jonathan Moric, left, and Finn Power, both of Vancouver, get ready to watch the eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in a park in Salem, Ore.  AP Photo/Andrew Selsky

  • Schweta Kulkarni, from left, Rhea Kulkarni and Saanvi Kulkarni, from Seattle, try out their eclipse glasses on the sun at a gathering of eclipse viewers in Salem, Ore., early Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. AP Photo/Don Ryan

  • Mike Newchurch, left, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and graduate student Paula Tucker prepare a weather balloon before releasing it to perform research during the solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, on the Orchard Dale historical farm near Hopkinsville, Ky. The location, which is in the path of totality, is also at the point of greatest intensity.  AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

  • People wait in line to buy viewing glasses for the eclipse at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles early Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. AP Photo/Richard Vogel

  • Jim Cleveland, of Shelbyville, Ky., sets up a camera at his campsite at sunrise as he prepares for the solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, on the Orchard Dale historical farm near Hopkinsville, Ky. The location, which is in the path of totality, is also at the point of greatest intensity. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Associated Press
Published: 8/21/2017 10:20:25 PM

The stars came out in the middle of the day, zoo animals ran in agitated circles, crickets chirped, birds fell silent and a chilly darkness fell upon the land Monday as the U.S. witnessed its first full-blown, coast-to-coast solar eclipse since World War I.

Millions of Americans gazed in wonder at the cosmic spectacle, with the best seats along the so-called path of totality that raced 2,600 miles across the continent from Oregon to South Carolina.

“It was a very primal experience,” Julie Vigeland, of Portland, Oregon, said after she was moved to tears by the sight of the sun reduced to a silvery ring of light in Salem.

It took 90 minutes for the shadow of the moon to travel across the country. Along that path, the moon blotted out the midday sun for about two wondrous minutes at any one place, eliciting oohs, aahs, whoops and shouts from people gathered in stadiums, parks and backyards.

It was, by all accounts, the most-observed and most-photographed eclipse in history, documented by satellites and high-altitude balloons and watched on Earth through telescopes, cameras and cardboard-frame protective eyeglasses.

In Boise, Idaho, where the sun was more than 99 percent blocked, the street lights flicked on briefly, while in Nashville, Tennessee, people craned their necks at the sky and knocked back longneck beers at Nudie’s Honky Tonk bar.

Passengers aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean watched it unfold as Bonnie Tyler sang her 1983 hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Several minor-league baseball teams — one of them, the Columbia Fireflies, outfitted for the day in glow-in-the-dark jerseys — briefly suspended play.

At the White House, despite all the warnings from experts about the risk of eye damage, President Donald Trump took off his eclipse glasses and looked directly at the sun.

The path of totality, where the sun was 100 percent obscured by the moon, was just 60 to 70 miles wide. But the rest of North America was treated to a partial eclipse, as were Central American and the top of South America.

Skies were clear along most of the route, to the relief of those who feared cloud cover would spoil the moment.

“Oh, God, oh, that was amazing,” said Joe Dellinger, a Houston man who set up a telescope on the Capitol lawn in Jefferson City, Missouri. “That was better than any photo.”

For the youngest observers, it seemed like magic.

“It’s really, really, really, really awesome,” said 9-year-old Cami Smith as she gazed at the fully eclipsed sun in Beverly Beach, Oregon.

NASA reported 4.4 million people were watching its TV coverage midway through the eclipse, the biggest livestream event in the space agency’s history.

“It can be religious. It makes you feel insignificant, like you’re just a speck in the whole scheme of things,” said veteran eclipse-watcher Mike O’Leary of San Diego, who set up his camera along with hundreds of other amateur astronomers in Casper, Wyoming.

John Hays drove up from Bishop, California, for the total eclipse in Salem, Oregon, and said the experience will stay with him forever.

“That silvery ring is so hypnotic and mesmerizing, it does remind you of wizardry or like magic,” he said.

Hoping to learn more about the sun’s composition and activity, NASA and other scientists watched and analyzed it all from the ground and the sky, including aboard the International Space Station.

Citizen scientists monitored animal and plant behavior as day turned into twilight. About 7,000 people streamed into the Nashville Zoo just to see the animals’ reaction and noticed how they got noisier at it got darker.

The giraffes started running around crazily in circles when darkness fell, and the flamingos huddled together, though zookeepers aid it wasn’t clear whether it was the eclipse or the noisy, cheering crowd that spooked them.

“I didn’t expect to get so emotionally caught up with it. I literally had chill bumps,” said zoo volunteer Stephen Foust.

In Charleston, South Carolina, the eclipse’s last stop in the U.S., college junior Allie Stern, 20, said: “It was amazing. It looked like a banana peel, like a glowing banana peel which is kind of hard to describe and imagine but it was super cool.”

The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man’s land, like the vast Pacific or Earth’s poles. This is the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.

The last coast-to-coast total eclipse in the U.S. was in 1918, when Woodrow Wilson was president. The last total solar eclipse in the U.S. was in 1979, but only five states in the Northwest experienced total darkness.

The next total eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy