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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY >Americans mesmerized by total solar eclipse scene

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Sky-gazers stood transfixed across North America Monday as the Sun vanished behind the Moon in a rare total eclipse that swept the continent coast-to-coast for the first time in nearly a century.

Millions of die-hard eclipse chasers and amateur star watchers alike converged in cities along the path of totality, a 113-kilometer wide swath cutting through 14 US states, where the Moon briefly blocked out all light from the Sun. 

“It was incredibly beautiful. I am moved to tears,” said Heather Riser, a 54-year-old librarian from Virginia, sitting on a blanket in Charleston’s grassy Waterfront Park where thousands had gathered to watch.

Festivals, rooftop parties, weddings, camping trips and astronomy meet-ups were held nationwide for what was likely most heavily photographed and documented eclipse in modern times, thanks to the era of social media.

The blackest part of the shadow, known as totality because the Moon blocks all the Sun’s light from the Earth, began over Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 17.16 GMT. Crowds whooped and cheered at the first sign of darkness.

Just inland, more than 100,000 people gathered at Madras, Oregon, typically a town of 7,000, in what experts described as perfect viewing conditions.

In downtown Charleston, South Carolina, the last point in the path of totality, crowds of tourists, some in special eclipse T-shirts and star-printed trousers, staked out prime spots on the bustling city’s storied waterfront.

Forecasts of thunderstorms threatened to block the view, but the eclipse managed to peek through the wispy clouds.

Onlookers in Waterfront Park screamed and cheered as the sky went dark in the middle of the afternoon, streetlamps came on, and a rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance.

August/22/2017

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