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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Total solar eclipse races along dark path through North America

Patrons watch the partial solar eclipse at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on Monday, April 8, 2024. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

By Michael Roston and Ben Shpigel

The full force of the moon’s shadow crossed the United States on Monday, as the first total solar eclipse in seven years plunged the day into darkness and reminded all in its path of our planet’s place in the cosmos.

Totality reached North America at 2:07 p.m., when the silhouette of the moon ate into the yellow orb of the sun. As the silvery glow of the corona materialized, the temperature dropped and DJs stopped blaring music. A sense of hushed calm ensued as people captured the event with their phones.

Behind eclipse glasses or other safe means of viewing the phenomenon, they watched the moon’s shadow grow until the light was extinguished. In some places, it was dim for as long as 4 1/2 minutes.

The eclipse continued its path across the continent, entering the United States in Eagle Pass, Texas, along the border with Mexico, then concluding the American portion of its journey in Houlton, Maine, at 3:32 p.m. Eastern time.

As totality wrought its final moments of coronal blackness, the crowd in the Pine Tree State quieted, couples wrapped arms around each others’ shoulders and small flocks of birds darted over the town square, as orange light glowed on the horizon.

The eclipse continued across pockets of eastern Canada, from the steeples and spires of Montreal to the rugged coastline of Newfoundland. There in the city of Gander, gaps in the thick clouds revealed moments of the eclipse’s effects on the horizon.

— The next opportunity to see a total solar eclipse in the 48 contiguous U.S. states and Canada isn’t until 2044. To see a total eclipse before then, you’ll need to travel abroad — the next event will be in August 2026 and cross through a number of European countries including Iceland and Spain.

— The total eclipse carved a southwest-to-northeast path, swept through San Antonio at 2:33 p.m.; Dallas at 2:40 p.m.; Little Rock, Arkansas, at 2:51 p.m.; Indianapolis at 3:05 p.m.; Cleveland at 3:13 p.m.; and Buffalo, New York, at 3:18 p.m. Canada caught its first glimpse of the partial eclipse at 3:12 p.m. Around 3:45 p.m., the Canadian province of Newfoundland was the last major piece of land to see the total eclipse.

— While the eclipse was most impressive when viewed at totality, hundreds of millions of people experienced a partial eclipse. In Chicago, the sun was about 94% obscured. In Boston, 93%. In New York (around 3:25 p.m. Eastern time) and Philadelphia, it was a 90% eclipse.

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