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The total solar eclipse is finally here
By Ashley Strickland, CNN
Updated 2:52 PM EDT, Mon August 21, 2017

View this interactive content on CNN.com
(CNN) The first glimpses of the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States from coast to coast in 99 years are now visible. What started as a tiny crescent of the moon’s shadow has turned into a perfectly beautiful eclipse. It started in Oregon and is making a diagonal trek across the country, ending in South Carolina just after 4 p.m. ET.

During totality in Oregon, it looked like nighttime outside, with stars appearing in the sky and the temperature dropping.

NASA — which is all about the eclipse today — is having a bit of fun with it, tweeting a joke about the moon blocking the sun — on social media.

“HA HA HA I’ve blocked the Sun! Make way for the Moon,” said the official NASA Moon account, which blocked the NASA Sun’s account.

Along with the moon and some sunspots, the International Space Station made a cameo in front of the sun. If you look very closely, you can see it.

If it hasn’t yet reached your area, here’s what you can do to be prepared:

— Keep up with the forecast to make sure you won’t be rained or clouded out.

— Make sure you know everything about safely viewing the eclipse.

— Any animals nearby? Keep an eye on their behavior.

— Look on social media to see how all the various science experiments are going.

— If you’re stuck inside, follow along with virtual reality and 360 video on CNN.

— Get your camera or phone ready!

— Don’t have glasses? Here’s how to make them in less than 10 minutes.

— Watch Bonnie Tyler sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

— Read all the tweets and reactions or follow CNN’s live blog.

— Anything you don’t see here? It’s in our last-minute cheat sheet.

And don’t forget to share your view with us.

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Watch the Solar Eclipse Cross the U.S. Live

Starting in Oregon, experience the solar eclipse with coast-to-coast coverage in five states and views from planes, high-altitude balloons, modified telescopes and satellites.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Photo by Ojo Bala/European Pressphoto Agency. Watch in Times Video »

• A total solar eclipse made contact in Oregon just after 1:15 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, darkening skies as the moon obscured the sun and cast a long shadow across Earth.

• It will continue moving across the United States, ending just before 3 p.m. in South Carolina. Weather forecasts were mixed in some locations along the eclipse’s path.

• Do not look at the eclipse without special eyeglasses that you have confirmed are safe. You could permanently damage your eyes. Our guide oneclipse safety has instructions if you didn’t manage to get glasses, and another option if you’re stuck indoors. NASA is also livestreaming the eclipse.

• We’re collecting and sharing your photos from the eclipse here.

• Scientists are hoping their studies of this eclipse will lead to important discoveries about the sun’s mysterious corona, which burns more than a million degrees hotter than the sun’s surface.

• Sign up for the weekly Science Times email newsletter and like our Science page on Facebook.

Oregon and its visitors savor a total eclipse.

Near Depoe Bay along the Pacific coast, a flock of sea gulls hidden in fog called out loudly, then went suddenly quiet. A chorus of gasps rang out among the scattered crowd of about a hundred still gathered at Government Point as the sun disappeared. And then a cheer as all dropped into total darkness.

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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

Photo

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

Some fear poor weather to the east.

The moon was continuing along its path across the United States, but some worried they would be at the wrong place during the moment of totality they had planned for.

To the east in Beatrice, Neb., at the Homestead National Monument of America, the buses kept arriving, dropping off thousands. They were deposited into weather that was becoming progressively cloudier through the morning. “I just said another prayer for ‘please let us see at least some of it,’” said the local chamber of commerce’s executive director, Lora Young, as eclipse time loomed.

Photo

Gathering in Nashville. CreditJoe Buglewicz for The New York Times

As the sky in Southern Illinois University’s football stadium in Carbondale darkened an hour before totality, people slowly realized their chance to see the eclipse would be a nail biter.

“Yeah there is a cloud there right now, but let’s push that out of the way,” said Matt Kaplan, the announcer for the stadium’s official program.

Experienced eclipse chasers converging on the line of totality, like Bill and Hillary Griffith of San Diego, said they were ready if weather was set to ruin their view in the Illinois town

“We have a plan A, B through Z,” said Ms. Griffith, who was hoping to see her fourth eclipse.

Mr. Griffith, her husband, became fascinated by eclipses as a Boy Scout in 1967 and was enthralled to learn that in 50 years one would grace Carbondale, which is his hometown.

Finding an alternative for bad weather started earlier in Tennessee for Henry Hsu, whose family spent about $2,000 for plane tickets and a hotel room for a trip from their home in New Jersey to Kansas City, Mo., to view the eclipse.

But as he grew concerned about the weather last week, he abandoned those plans and drove 10 hours with his family to Loudon, Tenn.

When asked if it would be worth the time and money, he replied, “If it’s the most inspiring thing ever, then yeah,” said Mr. Hsu, who has never seen a total solar eclipse.

Photo

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. CreditCelia Talbot Tobin for The New York Times

In South Carolina, near the end of the eclipse’s path, forecasts were slightly improved as the College of Charleston welcomed its Class of 2021.

Asked which was more exciting, the beginning of college or the eclipse, one freshman, Carter Broderick, from Wilmington, N.C., had a quick answer: the eclipse. “Everyone’s starting college, but I came to Charleston, and the eclipse is here,” she said. “It’s a win-win.”

The White House announces its eclipse plans.

A White House official said Monday that President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, will view the partial eclipse from the Truman balcony on the second floor of the residence, overlooking the South Lawn. The moon was expected to obscure just over eighty percent of the sun in Washington around 2:42 p.m. Eastern time.

In New York, the eclipse was expected to be smaller, at just over 70 percent. At the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, hordes of people pushed their way to the second floor terrace.

Anirudh Vishneek, 13, from Dubai and visiting family in Jersey City, came to the museum with his parents.

“This will be my first time seeing a solar eclipse,” Anirudh said. “I just want to see what it’s like.”

In Queens, near Corona Golf Playground, Mary Gorel, a park caretaker, was prepa with her eclipse glasses.

“I’m psyched. I’m ready,” she said. “It’s just cool because this is the only one in our lifetime now.” — Emily Palmer and Sean Piccoli

Here’s the eclipse’s path.

Photo

CreditThe New York Times

The path of totality continues across the United States. Because of planetary geometry, the total eclipse can last less than one minute in some places, and as long as two minutes and 41 seconds in others. The eclipse’s longest point of duration is near a small town called Makanda, Ill., population 600.

Around 1:15 p.m. Eastern time, the total solar eclipse first reached Oregon’s coast. For the next 90 or so minutes it will continueover 13 more states: Idaho, Montana (barely), Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa (hardly), Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and finally South Carolina.

At about 2:49 p.m. Eastern time in South Carolina, some lucky souls in the Palmetto State’s marshes could be the last on American soil to experience the total eclipse. Just after 4 p.m. Eastern, the partial eclipse will end and all of America will again be under the full August sun.

But don’t look directly at the partially eclipsed sun.

We can’t emphasize enough that you need special glasses before looking up at the eclipse, lest you risk permanent damage to your eyes. Your sunglasses won’t do the job. Wear your special glasses for viewing during the partial eclipse phases.

But even those who planned ahead need to make sure their eyewear will offer sufficient protection.

There are reports across the United States of glasses that were handed out but later recalled after vendors questioned the authenticity of their safety certification. Amazon was among the companies to recall some glasses.

Here are some tips on how to determine whether your eyewear is safe.

Photo

A pair of eclipse glasses with a hole burned through one of the lenses that were held up to a telescope at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. CreditAndrea Morales for The New York Times

If you’re in the line of totality, you can remove your glasses once the sun is completely blocked and admire the enigmatic disc of the moon and the threads of corona that appear at its edges. Savor these minutes. Put your glasses back on as soon as the moon moves on and the sun begins to reappear.

Maybe you didn’t get eclipse glasses in time — they’re sold out at a lot of places — or maybe you got some that were fraudulent and you had to throw them away. You still have options for eclipse viewing. You can make a pinhole projector with two paper plates — here are some instructions, and a video demonstration of this technique. You can learn even more in our guide to safe eclipse viewing.

How to Watch a Solar Eclipse

What you need to know about eclipses, how to be safe during an eclipse and some fun experiments you can try during this rare event.

Scientists are very excited about this eclipse.

Total solar eclipses are 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.

Video

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 DateAugust 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.

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 CATEproject which aims to film totality for 90 minutes across the country. A few scientists will even be collecting images of the corona from airplanessoaring 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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Sync your calendar with the solar system

Never miss an eclipse, a meteor shower, a rocket launch or any other astronomical and space event that’s out of this world.

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