Millions view solar eclipse in person and online

The great American eclipse puts on a show seen by tens of millions.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Aug 27, 2017
The "Great American Eclipse" of August 21, the first with a path of totality from one US coast to another in 99 years, may have been the most observed and photographed solar eclipse in history.

Approximately 12 million people live in the 70-mile wide path of totality that ran through 14 states while several million more traveled from all over the country and the world to locations on the path to view the phenomenon.

A partial eclipse was visible in all US states, Canada, Central America, northern South America, northwestern Europe and Africa, and the eastern Chukchi Peninsula in Asia.

More than 40 million people watched NASA's live online broadcast of the event, making it the agency's most watched live broadcast, seen by more people than the highly popular broadcasts of the 2012 Mars Curiosity rover landing and the 2015 New Horizons Pluto flyby.

"We'll admit it--even we were blown away by the sheer magnitude of response to the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017," the space agency said in a public statement.

According to YouTube, more than 100 million people watched livestreams and videos of the eclipse.

Many students took part in citizen science projects that involved photographing the event.

The Eclipse MegaMovie Project is assembling photos and videos taken by more than 1,000 photographers and amateur astronomers across the country to create a continuous view of the eclipse as it traversed the continent.

Images taken along the path of totality will provide scientists with unprecedented insight into the solar corona and changes it undergoes over time.

Because the project will be repeated during the next solar eclipse in the US on April 8, 2024, it will illustrate changes in the Sun's outer atmosphere over a period of seven years.

In Lake Barkley State Resort Park, just outside of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, as in numerous locations along the path of totality, hundreds of people observed the eclipse after traveling many hours from other states and even from Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Like many parents, Kale Dowdy and his wife, residents of Evansville, Indiana, took their children out of school to view the eclipse as a family event.

Mark Grove of South Bend, Indiana, viewed solar flares coming from the Sun's surface through a ten-inch telescope with a 25-millimeter eyepiece.

Temperatures at the Cadiz, Kentucky State Resort Park were in the 90s when the eclipse started, with a heat-humidity index ranging from 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit.

As more and more of the Moon proceeded to obscure the Sun, a slight wind picked up; lighting became muted, and weather conditions went from brutal to comfortable.

At totality, the sky suddenly darkened to twilight. Venus became visible, and strange clouds appeared on the western horizon while observers marveled at the corona.

Following totality, the heat and humidity returned as the Moon moved away from the Sun.




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