Monday, August 21, 2017

Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017 Wows Skywatchers

A total solar eclipse is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon. Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The “Great American Eclipse” has officially ended. The first glimpses of the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States from coast to coast in 99 years began in Oregon, with totality just after 1 p.m. ET. What started as a tiny crescent of the moon's shadow turned into a perfectly beautiful eclipse in city after city. It ended in South Carolina about 3 p.m. ET. A partial solar eclipse was visible until just after 4 p.m. in the Southeast.

NASA’s G-III aircraft picked up the stunning celestial event in Salem, Oregon, showing the black orb of the moon covering the blazing sun to create a glowing halo.

The awe-inspiring moment cast total blackness over the area.

It then stretched across 13 other states: Idaho, a sliver of Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, a tiny portion of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

In most places, the total eclipse lasted less than one minute, but the longest period of darkness lasted 2 minutes and 44 seconds over Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois.

Millions of people moved to get into the path of darkness, putting on their protective glasses to gaze at the sky in wonder.

It was the first total solar eclipse visible from America's lower 48 states in 38 years, and the first since 1918 to track from coast to coast.

In Washington, D.C., where the sun was about 80 percent obscured by the moon, President Trump, Melania Trump and their son, Barron Trump, took in the scene from the Blue Room Balcony just after 2:30 p.m. ET.

The president waved to the onlookers at the White House, and gave a thumbs-up gesture when a reporter inquired about the view. He observed the eclipse at its apex wearing glasses with Mrs. Trump for about 90 seconds.

The Atlantic coastal city of Charleston was the final big urban area tasked with saying goodbye to the eclipse. It experienced the full shadow at 2:47 p.m. ET.

Then totality headed out past Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, across the coastal wetlands and out into the Atlantic.

Although, the US had exclusive rights on totality, a partial eclipse was visible across all of North America and the north of South America.

Parts of western Europe were also set to see the moon take a little chunk out of the sun at the end of the day just before the star dipped below the horizon.

The next total solar eclipse on Earth is on July 2, 2019, over the South Pacific, Chile, Argentina.

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