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World  

Day turns into night

Millions of Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and disposable protective glasses Monday as the moon blotted out the sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century.

"It's really, really, really, really awesome," said 9-year-old Cami Smith as she watched the fully eclipsed sun from a gravel lane near her grandfather's home at Beverly Beach, Oregon.

The temperature dropped, birds quieted down, crickets chirped and the stars came out in the middle of the day as the line of darkness raced 4,200 kilometres across the continent in about 90 minutes, bringing forth oohs, aahs, shouts and screams.

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

It was the most-observed and most-photographed eclipse in history, with many Americans staking out prime viewing spots and settling onto blankets and lawn chairs to watch, especially along the path of totality — the line of deep shadow created when the sun is completely obscured except for the delicate ring of light known as the corona.

The shadow — a corridor roughly 100 kilometres wide — came ashore in Oregon and then travelled diagonally across the heartland to South Carolina, with darkness from the totality lasting only about two to three wondrous minutes in any one spot.

The rest of North America was treated to a partial eclipse, as were Central American and the top of South America.

"We're all part of something celestial — so much bigger than us, so mysterious," said Ed Sullivan, who travelled from Richmond, Virginia, to Glendo Reservoir in Wyoming. "There is so much to ponder I don't even know what questions to ask, but I enjoy just feeling the mystery."

With 200 million people within a day's drive from the path of totality, towns and parks saw big crowds.

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.



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