Millions of Americans to witness total eclipse

Reuters
Millions of Americans were taking prime positions across the United States yesterday to marvel at the first total solar eclipse to unfold from coast to coast in nearly a century.
Reuters

Millions of Americans equipped with protective glasses were taking prime positions along a ribbon of land across the United States yesterday to marvel at the first total solar eclipse to unfold from coast to coast in nearly a century.

After weeks of anticipation, the sight of the moon’s silhouette passing directly in front of the sun, blotting out all but a halo-like solar corona, will draw one of the largest audiences in human history, experts say, when those watching via social and broadcast media are included.

Some 12 million people live in the 113-kilometer-wide, 4,000-kilometer-long zone where the total eclipse will appear. Millions of others have traveled to spots along the route to bask in its full glory.

In Depoe Bay, Oregon, just south of where the phenomenon will first appear at 10:15am PDT, thick fog shrouded the water on Monday morning, with the sun hidden behind a curtain of mist and clouds. Visitors had taken every parking space along the sea wall by 6am.

Some 94 minutes after its debut, at 2:49pm EDT, totality will take its final bow near Charleston, South Carolina, where eclipse gazers began drifting onto the harbor’s sea wall.

Officials said the county’s 16,000 hotel rooms were booked, and police expected up to 100,000 visitors to the area.

Nancy Conway, 57, an elementary school principal, said she made the long drive from Lynn, Massachusetts, with a car full of relatives.

“Twenty hours, three drivers, four adults, two 6-year-old twins,” Conway said as she sat in a lawn chair facing the harbor. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The last time such a spectacle unfolded from the Pacific to the Atlantic was in 1918. The last total eclipse seen anywhere in the US took place in 1979.

For millions of others outside the zone of “totality,” a partial eclipse of the sun will appear throughout North America if there is no local cloud cover.

Perhaps never before have so many people had the opportunity to see a total eclipse, said cartographer Michael Zeiler, who maintains the www.greatamericaneclipse.com website and is a self-described “eclipse chaser.”


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