Science

The Great American Eclipse has begun! Around the country, people are in position for prime viewing. Follow along here to catch all the action.

In-camera multiple exposure of the phases of the solar eclipse from Salem. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Ready for a recap? Watch 'Eclipse Over America' tonight on NOVA

 (NASA/SDO)
(NASA/SDO)

That’s a wrap!

The moon’s shadow has left South Carolina and moved out to sea. That means the Great American Eclipse is over.

But in just a few hours, you can relive the experience on TV with the science series NOVA.

“Eclipse Over America” is an hour-long documentary recounting the day’s events. Producers will incorporate footage from public television stations in cities that happened to be along the path of totality, the roughly 70-mile-wide swath of the country that experienced a total eclipse.

Here's a preview:

The program will also explain how scientists take advantage of eclipses to learn more about the sun and its solar storms. (For more about the experiments scientists conducted during the eclipse, read our story here.) 

The show will be broadcast at 9 p.m. on public television stations around the country, including PBS SoCal in Southern California.

At Grand Ole Opry, the band stopped playing and cicadas started chirping as darkness fell on Nashville

Revelers observe the solar eclipse from the rooftop bar of Nudie's Honkey Tonk in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig / Associated Press)
Revelers observe the solar eclipse from the rooftop bar of Nudie's Honkey Tonk in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig / Associated Press)

 As darkness fell outside the Grand Ole Opry, the band onstage stopped playing. The temperature dropped. Cicadas started chirruping in the trees. Eclipse-watchers who had hidden in the shade to hide from the heat came out for one last look at the sun as dusk fell in midday and everything went dark.

Viewed through the proper protective glasses, everything was black except for a tiny sliver of the sun. Then the tiny sliver disappeared, and everyone took off their glasses and looked at where the sun used to be.

The moon was black and rimmed with white fire.

And the crowd cheered.

But then, just as suddenly, a passing cloud swallowed the moon, and the crowd groaned as the sky turned dark. By the time the cloud passed, so had the totality. The first sign of a return to normalcy was a flagpole bearing the American flag, which flowed with the faint orange of a sunrise, and soon everything felt back to normal.

"I felt a sense of awe about nature ... the whole totality of the universe," said Lisa Wilbanks, 57, of Louisville, Ky., moments after the eclipse passed, with awe still in her voice.

When the moon began blocking the sun, Wilbanks said, she was glad not just to see the eclipse, but also felt "blessed and really grateful that we have science to tell us these things."

How they watched an eclipse in 1932

Boy, they used to dress up for a solar eclipse.

This may look like a scene from an old-timey movie, but it's an actual photo of people taking in a partial eclipse of the sun from the observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York City.

Watching a partial solar eclipse in New York City, 1932. (Associated Press)
Watching a partial solar eclipse in New York City, 1932. (Associated Press)

The photo was taken on Aug. 31, 1932. Though the skywatchers are wearing dresses, ties and nice hats, some of them appear to be missing the most important accessory: eclipse glasses.

In lieu of the solar-safe specs, many of the men, women and children squinted at the sun through a protective film. But a few seem to have relied on their sunglasses, or simply held up a hand to shade their eyes from the sun.

At Little League World Series, the game goes on but fans watch the eclipse

Mike Wenzel and sons Kyke and A.J. of New Jersey check out the solar eclipse between games at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. on Monday. (Kevin Baxter / Los Angeles Times)
Mike Wenzel and sons Kyke and A.J. of New Jersey check out the solar eclipse between games at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. on Monday. (Kevin Baxter / Los Angeles Times)

The team from Rancho Santa Margarita in south Orange County had just taken the field for pregame warm-ups at about 2:40 p.m. EDT Monday when the solar eclipse reached its height here at the site of the Little League World Series.

Few of the players looked up, but many fans turned their backs on the field and gazed toward the skies while ESPN announcers Karl Ravech and Aaron Boone left their broadcast booth and came down into the stands for a better look.

The eclipse was about 85% of totality in north-central Pennsylvania, but that was enough to darken the sky considerably, turning midafternoon to dusk for about half an hour. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees.

The lights at the two Little League World Series stadiums were turned out in late morning, in anticipation of the eclipse, and remained on through the rest of the day.

Rancho Santa Margarita was playing a team from Jackson, N.J., in an World Series elimination game on Monday.

Angelenos flood Griffith Observatory for a glimpse of solar eclipse

As the moon slid over a bright orange sun Monday morning, Southern Californians flocked to Griffith Observatory to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse.

Angeline Santiago and Mark Javier waited more than an hour in line to view the eclipse through the focused eye of a telescope.

The Daly City pair have been in Southern California since Wednesday visiting family and searched online to see where the best place to see the solar event would be.

The results said: Griffith Observatory.

So at 7 a.m. the couple threw on some clothes and called an Uber. By the time they got to the observatory, the eclipse was only minutes away and the line to buy special sunglasses was impractically long.

In a lapse of patience, Javier admitted that he did what everyone told him not to do, and he looked at the sun.

They're being followed by a moon shadow: Fun with the eclipse in Nashville

These eclipse addicts go to great lengths, again and again, to stand in awe of the heavens

Kate Russo, aboard the Galapagos Legend, views the 2005 total eclipse in the Pacific. (Kate Russo)
Kate Russo, aboard the Galapagos Legend, views the 2005 total eclipse in the Pacific. (Kate Russo)

Millions of people will look up to the heavens today as a total solar eclipse sweeps across the continental U.S. for the first time in nearly 100 years.

For the vast majority of skywatchers, the “Great American Eclipse” will be the first time they’ll experience the eerie darkness that falls when the moon completely obscures the face of the sun.

But for a dedicated few, eclipse-chasing is a lifelong habit.

The desire to stand again and again in the shadow of the moon has taken scientists, photographers and at least one astronomy-loving monsignor to Indonesia, Kenya, Bolivia and the Arctic archipelago, among other distant locales. They have chartered planes to see the eclipse from air and hired boats to view it from the sea.

These self-proclaimed eclipse addicts track the cumulative number of minutes they have spent in totality, when the sun is entirely covered and day turns to night. They pore over weather statistics to increase their chances of being in a spot with clear skies. They make plans years in advance.

Eclipse-chasing is an expensive pursuit, but those who love it say it is well worth it. They are certain that after the Great American Eclipse, their ranks will swell.

Artists turn to science in rendering the emotion of past eclipses

Russell Crotty's "Blue Totality," 2017. Ink and watercolor, fiberglass, plastic and tinted bio-resin on paper. (Shoshana Wayne Gallery)
Russell Crotty's "Blue Totality," 2017. Ink and watercolor, fiberglass, plastic and tinted bio-resin on paper. (Shoshana Wayne Gallery)

Thousands — millions? — of eyes gazed toward the heavens Monday for the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States in nearly 100 years. It swept on a “path of totality” from Oregon through South Carolina.

Before and after the event, the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena is celebrating with the exhibit “Eclipse.”

“I wanted to reference the symbolism we’ve attached to solar eclipses and the profound emotion and transcendent experiences people have,” gallery director Stephen Nowlin said. “I wanted to keep the show in the context of real science, not new ageism or pseudoscience.”

Rosemarie Fiore's "Smoke Eclipse #52," 2015. Firework smoke residue on Sunray paper. (Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles)
Rosemarie Fiore's "Smoke Eclipse #52," 2015. Firework smoke residue on Sunray paper. (Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles)

Displayed throughout the cavernous rooms are interpretive visual artworks, artifacts, documents and projections, including a montage of images from scientific eclipse expeditions carried out by the Lick Observatory near San Jose in the late 19th and early 20th century.

“Back then there was no spacecraft to examine the sun,” Nowlin said. “The only way astronomers could get a good look at the corona of the sun was to travel on arduous expeditions into remote areas of the world.”

Tears after the total eclipse in Oregon: 'It was so pretty. It was just so pretty'

It took Amy Steele, an astronomy graduate student at the University of Maryland, about 20 minutes to stop crying after the moment of totality passed in Salem, Ore.

"It was so pretty," she said, over and over again. "It was just so pretty."

"The moon was so black," she continued. "It was black like a hole in the sky. And Mercury! We never get photons from Mercury. It was so good."

Erin Meadors, who is about to enter her sophomore year at Williams College, darted around the terrace of a brick building sharing eight-minute video she took of the celestial event with friends, coworkers and even a few strangers.

Meadors has spent her whole summer preparing for the moment that just passed, checking camera and telescope equipment and then packing the instruments for the trip from Massachusetts to Oregon.  

Was it worth it?

"Oh my gosh," she gushed. "It was more than worth it. I should have been planning my whole life for this."

Total eclipse in the digital age: 'There's like an Instagram filter on everything'

"You couldn't dream it," 88-year-old Bob Richard Sr.said of the eclipse. (Andrea Chang / Los Angeles Times)
"You couldn't dream it," 88-year-old Bob Richard Sr.said of the eclipse. (Andrea Chang / Los Angeles Times)

Thirty members of the Richard family gathered in the front yard of patriarch Bob Richard Sr.'s home in rural Albany, Ore., setting up tents, lawn chairs and blankets for the big event. A local radio station's broadcast of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" played from nearby speakers.

As totality neared, the temperature dropped. A 360-degree hazy dusk enveloped the countryside. Swallows began swooping and diving before taking off in a flock into the "night" sky.

"It's getting darker! There's like an Instagram filter on everything," said Jenny Carlson, 45, a pharmacist from Tigard, Ore.

Her older brother, Bob Richard Jr., 65, simply said: "Far out, man."

Afterward, Bob Richard Sr., still donning the solar eclipse mask that one of his daughters made — involving a cut-out Styrofoam plate affixed to a pair of eclipse glasses — the 88-year-old marveled at what he had just witnessed.

"This was something," he said. "You couldn't dream it."

The moon's shadow comes to Hopkinsville, Ky., the point of greatest eclipse

The eclipse has now passed Hopkinsville, Ky., the “point of greatest eclipse.”

The point of greatest eclipse is actually a point in time, not a physical place, said Renee Weber, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. 

More specifically, it’s when “the axis of the moon’s shadow is pointed most directly at the center of the Earth,” Weber explained on NASA TV.

Hopkinsville happens to be the place on the surface of the Earth where that alignment occurs. That’s why the town earned the nickname “Eclipseville.”

One upshot of being at the point of greatest eclipse is that the shadow of the moon, or umbra, is more circular there than anywhere else in the world.

Shortly after totality began, Weber was able to see Jupiter and some other planets in the daytime sky.

“I just have goose bumps all over my body,” she said. “I think I’m hooked. I’m an addict.”

She also pointed out that “you’re really looking at the moon when you’re watching a solar eclipse,” not the sun.

The eclipse has now passed over half of the country. The moon’s shadow is on its way to Charleston, S.C., traveling at about 1,500 miles per hour.

Bill Nye on the meaning of the eclipse: 'We are all citizens of the same planet'

There's nothing like an eclipse to bring humanity together. Just ask Bill Nye.

The self-styled "Science Guy" and Planetary Society CEO says the eclipse is a reminder that we earthlings are part of one big family.

Here's how he put it:

"Experiencing an eclipse changes the way we feel about space and how we are connected. I hope this moment reminds us all that we share a common origin among the stars, and that we are all citizens of the same planet.

"I hope each of us takes a moment to consider the diligence of our ancestors, who came to understand our Solar System’s planets and moons, who measured the fantastic distances between them, and came to know their orbital motions. That we humble humans can understand all of this is remarkable. It fills me with optimism about our species and our future. ...

"Let’s celebrate together and marvel at humankind’s ability to observe this phenomenon, and to understand the cosmos and our place within it."

Nye released his statement from the Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, Neb. After totality has passed, he will help lead attendees through the National Park Service's new Eclipse Junior Ranger Program.

California lawmakers awed by the solar eclipse

Solar marketing

'Happy totality'

Miss today's eclipse? Another one is coming in 2024

The path of the 2024 total solar eclipse. (Joe Fox / L.A. Times Graphics)
The path of the 2024 total solar eclipse. (Joe Fox / L.A. Times Graphics)

The Great American Eclipse is over. But don't toss those glasses just yet. (No, they don't "expire," despite what you may have heard.)

Before today's eclipse, it had been 38 years since the last total solar eclipse visible from the United States. Thankfully, you won't have to wait that long until the next one: A total eclipse will sweep up through Texas and across the Midwest and East Coast on April 8, 2024.

Thousands of people road-tripped to places along the path of the Great American Eclipse. Hotels along the path of totality reported being fully booked years in advance, and small towns were overwhelmed by the influx of eclipse seekers. So now's your chance to get things booked ahead of time.

And if you can't wait that long, a total solar eclipse will reach South America on July 2, 2019.

See the phases of the total eclipse, all in one shot

What does an eclipse sound like? In Nashville, they're playing an atmospheric soundtrack

Cows in the fields lay down as eclipse looms over Oregon

'Still trembling' after first total solar eclipse

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