The Heavy Lifting The North Sea Is Witness To

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Tina Foster, here with her family, was nearly in tears.

“That was so amazing — to witness that in real life,” she said. “That was kind of life-changing, especially for the kids.”

Elsewhere in the state’s zone of totality, electronic signs along the highways flashed warnings that stopping was not permitted. The rule was ignored. As the moon swallowed the sun, a rest stop along Interstate 5 overflowed with cars.

In Salem, Ore., there were hugs, screams and tears, punctuated by cheers when the planet Venus became visible just before totality.

Jay Pasachoff, one of the world’s leading eclipse astronomers, was grinning and walking through the crowd, hugging everybody after witnessing his 34th eclipse.

“This was absolutely fabulous,” he said. “As perfect as possible.” — Phoebe Flanigan, Thomas Fuller and Dennis Overbye

A crowd in Salem, Ore. observed the beginning of the eclipse. Credit Don Ryan/Associated Press

Where the weather did and didn’t cooperate.

Some viewers expected disappointment as clouds filled skies on their parcel of the path of totality.

At Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, Neb., the whole thing seemed in doubt.

“Go away, clouds,” people chanted briefly as totality approached with the sun mostly obscured by a storm cloud. A few minutes later, when the sun became partially visible, the crowd cheered loudly.


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When totality started, the sky turned dark, a few sparrows fluttered past and a star became visible. But it was several seconds until the sun poked through a gap in the clouds, prompting gasps and applause.

To the southeast, at Rosecrans Memorial Airport near St. Joseph, Mo., many visitors had traveled a long way to be disappointed by cloudy weather.

Daniel and Miriam Taylor from Auckland, New Zealand, reached the area around 5 a.m. Eastern time, Monday after a 36-hour trip, and sought to maintain an upbeat attitude.

“It’s out of our control,” Mr. Taylor said.

“Yeah, we’re pretty chill about it,” Ms. Taylor chimed in. “Obviously, it’d be amazing to see it. We were driving into this thunder lightning storm, and we’re just like, ‘This is part of it. Just being here is part of the atmosphere.’”

A few minutes later, when totality hit, the eclipse was visible for a few fleeting seconds, and people all around cheered.

But Alex Shaller, 35, said he spent $800 to get to St. Joseph from Worcester, Mass., and that the weather was a bit of a letdown.

“It wasn’t as good as it could have been,” he said when asked about the experience. “I feel O.K. Not horrible, just O.K.”

In Charleston, S.C., the last city on the eclipse route before it headed out over the Atlantic, heavy clouds obscured totality.


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But the hundreds of students gathered at the College of Charleston were ready for a final party anyway, as classes start tomorrow. They hooted and hollered as the moon slowly worked its way across the sun — a sight that, with glasses, was visible through the clouds. And they screamed again after totality, when a crescent sun again made an appearance.

Then the moon’s shadow headed out past Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, across the coastal wetlands and out into the Atlantic. — John Eligon, Henry Fountain and Mitch Smith

Watching the eclipse in Nashville. Credit Joe Buglewicz for The New York Times
In Jackson Hole, Wyo., Walt Nilsen of the National Forest service, tests his do-it-yourself solar filter, cut from a pair of eclipse glasses, over his phone. Credit Celia Talbot Tobin for The New York Times

Rare unity in Washington.

In Washington, 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 Truman Balcony just after 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.

By then, a busybody town had come to a quiet. Government workers clustered outside office buildings while tourists mingled next to the White House, unsure when, and where, to look.

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Just before the first family appeared, Secret Service agents blew whistles to clear away pedestrians at the southern gates of the White House. Most scattered toward the Washington Monument.

A vendor outside the White House grounds selling Trump merchandise said people had come all morning looking to buy glasses for the eclipse, which he did not have.

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.

Cathy and Jerry Hickey were laying on their backs in the shadow of the monument, looking to the sky through eclipse glasses. Ms. Hickey had planned to be at there ever since she heard of the eclipse.

“It stands for our country,” she said. And “it points at the sun.”

To rescue families who had not yet found eclipse glasses, two National Park Service rangers sat at a folding table by the monument, handing out the last of what had been hundreds of pairs. The rangers also gave away eclipse-themed “junior ranger” booklets to children. — Noah Weiland


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Jubilance in New York.

Farther north in New York, where the partially eclipsed sun appeared fitfully behind clouds, a positive mood swept over viewers at the American Museum of Natural History.

Nicole Yong, 30, said the event felt like an extension of the weekend and noted that the eclipse seemed to be bringing people together, with “everyone sharing their glasses, making room for others to sit down, taking only what they need so there’s enough for everyone else.”

At the New York Hall of Science in Queens, children and their parents were in the majority among the hundreds gathered to take in the celestial phenomenon.

Patrick Rooney, 45, a New York firefighter from Bayside, arrived at the hall with his welding mask — protective gear equipped with auto-dimming goggles strong enough to filter out damaging sunlight.

He occasionally handed the mask to his son, Patrick, 3, and daughter Catherine, 4, who all but disappeared from the shoulders up under the adult-sized headgear.

“I’m not sure they know exactly what they’re looking at,” Mr. Patrick said. “But they’re enjoying themselves and that’s all that matters.” — Emily Palmer and Sean Piccoli

Scientists are very excited about this eclipse.

Total solar eclipses offer marvelous opportunities to study Earth’s intimate relationship with the sun.

Eclipses happen about once every 18 months. But because Earth’s surface is covered mostly by water, they tend to occur over remote locations that are difficult for scientists to reach with advanced equipment for observation. For most American scientists it is perhaps the most accessible total solar eclipse since the last one to touch the lower 48 states in 1979. And in those 38 years, their equipment and ability to study the phenomena have greatly improved.


Eclipsing the Sun

On Aug. 21, the moon will paint a swath of North America in darkness.

By DENNIS OVERBYE, JONATHAN CORUM and JASON DRAKEFORD on Publish Date August 14, 2017. . Watch in Times Video »

Scientists have long been puzzled by the sun’s corona, the thin plasma veil that encases the star, because it burns more than a million degrees hotter than the sun’s surface. Only during totality is the corona visible from Earth.


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That’s when astronomers and citizen scientists across the total eclipse’s 3,000-mile long path will focus their attention on the white, wispy crown. They will observe it with telescopes, some as a part of the Citizen CATE project which aims to film totality for 90 minutes across the country. A few scientists will even be collecting images of the corona from airplanes soaring about 45,000 feet in the air.

Another headliner is Earth’s ionosphere, the electrically charged layer of the upper atmosphere through which communication and navigation signals move. Scientists will use radio waves from ham radios, GPS sensors and giant radars to investigate how this layer is affected by the sudden darkening caused by the eclipse.

— Nicholas St. Fleur and Dennis Overbye

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