Total solar eclipse: The continent looks on in wonder

  • By Holly Honderich
  • In Washington

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SEE: Stunning images of total solar eclipse crossing North America

Across Mexico, the United States, and Canada, within a ribbon of land 155 miles wide but more than 4,000 miles long, tens of thousands of people craned their necks, tilted their heads skyward, and watched in wonder as day turned into night.

What many saw on Monday was a phenomenon like no other: the moon moving between the Earth and the sun, extinguishing its light in a total solar eclipse.

The path of totality spanned the continent, starting on the warm sands of a Mexican beach town and darkening the skies above the crashing waters of Niagara Falls before ending its journey on the shores of Newfoundland, Canada.

A reminder of our planet's place in the universe is awe-inspiring in its wake.

The eclipse was first seen around Mazatlán, Mexico, on the country's west coast at 11:07 local time (18:07 GMT).

At first, the outer edge of the moon appeared to touch the sun. It devoured more and more until eventually everything went dark – except for the silvery glow of the sun's “corona” effect around the moon's exterior – until the joy erupted.

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Addie, with her father Ryan, watches the big moment

A thousand miles away in Dallas, Texas, 11-year-old Addie Walton-King waited, weeks of pent-up excitement ready to explode.

Having learned all about the eclipse in her fifth-grade class at Dallas Academy, she tied her shoes Monday morning and tucked four pairs of eclipse glasses into her pink purse — one for herself, one for each parent and one for her child. sister, Abigail.

Just before it started, Addie sat next to her dad Ryan on a school field in central Dallas and looked up.

As the Texas afternoon turned dark, she felt everything slow down. “It was as if the moon had bitten the sun, but without the marks of the teeth.”

Clouds drifted in and out, occasionally blocking the eclipse from view until the sun set, leaving nothing but a faint glow around the moon.

“I didn't think so,” said Adi. “It was really dark. I thought the evening would be dark, but it was very close to black.”

The temperature suddenly dropped and, just as she had been taught, the animals fell silent.

“When it started getting lighter the crickets were there and the birds started singing. It was really crazy,” she said. “I'm sad it's over.”

From there, the eclipse carved its path northeast across the United States.

For some, the solar event marked a personal milestone, with hundreds of Americans joining the path of totality in one of the many mass wedding events.

image source, Good pictures

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A couple who participated in a mass wedding in Arkansas

In Russellville, Arkansas, 300 couples from across the country signed their “I do's” just before the sky turned dark. As the sky brightened, the group cut wedding cakes and danced – the aptly named Total Eclipse of the Heart Festival.

Following a phase of the moon, there was amateur astronomer Darcy Howard in Elsinore, Missouri, who drove from his home in central Arkansas to make sure bad weather didn't obstruct his view.

She had seen several eclipses before today, two total, one annular and two partial. “Everyone has their own fingerprint,” he said.

Today's total brought a “strange twilight” at around 13:56 local time (18:56 GMT), Ms Howard said, with faint colors filling the horizon. The corona was as bright as the full moon. “There was an otherworldly feeling around,” he said.

The 70-year-old has loved the universe since her childhood, when her father showed her the Big Dipper, the North Star and the Milky Way, and bought her her first telescope.

“I was hooked,” she said. “I can look through a telescope and see Jupiter…I can see Saturn. When I see it in space, I know the whole world is right there.”

image source, Good pictures

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Where it all began: Children watch on the coast of Mazatlán, Mexico, the first place to experience perfection

At 15:13 local time (20:13 GMT), the total eclipse plunged the midwestern state of Ohio into darkness.

In Cleveland, eclipse-watchers were treated to clear skies, with the Sun's corona clearly visible, a brilliant halo framing the Moon.

The stars came out in the middle of the day, a spectacle met with cheers and fireworks, on New Year's Eve in mid-April.

Many major American cities aren't lucky enough to be in the path of totality — but the views are still stunning. In New York, hundreds of people flocked to the observation deck of the Edge skyscraper in Manhattan to see what they could see.

They were not disappointed as the sun shrunk into a crescent-shaped sliver of light that cast a pallid darkness over the city.

image source, Good pictures

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Hundreds look to the skies at the Edge site in New York

Tourists flocked to Niagara Falls on both sides of the border, where the eclipse path crossed from the United States to Canada.

Here, the weather presented a formidable challenge, with thick gray clouds often obscuring the sky from view.

But at the perfect moment – ​​to the audible delight of the crowd – the clouds parted to reveal the black hole sun.

Nearby, at the Niagara City Cruise, a record 309 people celebrated – dressing up as the sun to break the Guinness World Record for “Largest Crowd of People Dressed as the Sun”.

The incessant movement of the celestial bodies meant that the event did not last long, and Montreal had a chance to sink into temporary night next to it.

In Montreal, 20,000 people packed a stadium on the McGill University campus for an event hosted by the school's Trottier Space Institute.

“We're expecting 8,000,” said event manager Corona Cruz-Vinacia. Weather perfect, clear and bright skies. All in all, the crowd erupted in unison, she said.

“I still can't find the words for how wonderful it was,” she said. “We're still coming down.”

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Watch: Eclipse over Niagara Falls: 'Wow! spectacular'

Fogo Island, off Newfoundland's east coast of Canada, was less crowded — one of the last places to see totality.

Bethany Downery, from Newfoundland, who works for the European Space Agency, took in the spectacular view from the Fogo Island Resort, set against the Atlantic Ocean.

The sky was overcast, but the clouds moved miraculously.

And with that, a day of collective wonder and celebration reached its conclusion. But it left a lasting impression on many of those who witnessed it.

In Dallas, a few thousand miles down the track, Eddie Walton-King was making plans.

Texas won't be in the path of totality again for another 300 years, so she will have to travel to North America in 2044 for her next trip.

At that time, he will specialize in total eclipses. “I want to be a scientist by the time that happens,” he said.

— With additional reporting by Brandon Livesey, Nada Tawfiq, Nadine Yusif and Helena Humphrey

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