PHILADELPHIA (WTXF/AP) - Millions of Americans converged on a narrow corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina to watch the moon blot out the midday sun Monday for a wondrous couple of minutes in the first total solar eclipse to sweep coast to coast in 99 years.
Meanwhile, in the Philadelphia area, residents geared up to see about an 80% eclipse in the sky with the area lying outside of the path of totality.
Eclipse fans arrived at the Independence Seaport Museum just after noon Monday to stake out their spots.
The museum sold all 173 tickets to this viewing party in short order. Moments after the height of the eclipse-- around 2:50 p.m.-- clouds rolled in and ended things early, but the crowd went home happy with its once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man's land, like the vast Pacific or the poles. This will be the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.
The moon hasn't thrown this much shade at the U.S. since 1918. That was the country's last coast-to-coast total eclipse.
Monday's total eclipse cased a shadow that will race through 14 states, entering near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 1:16 p.m. EDT, moving diagonally across the heartland and then exiting near Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:47 p.m. EDT. The path will cut 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) across the land and will be just 60 to 70 miles (96 kilometers to 113 kilometers) wide.
NASA and other scientists will be watching and analyzing the eclipse from telescopes the ground and in orbit, the International Space Station, airplanes and scores of high-altitude balloons, which will beam back live video. Citizen scientists will monitor animal and plant behavior as daylight turns into twilight and the temperature drops.
Scientists everywhere agree with Uyeda: Put the phones and cameras down and enjoy the greatest natural show on Earth with your own (protected) eyes.
The only time it's safe to look directly without protective eyewear is during totality, when the sun is 100 percent covered. Otherwise, keep the solar specs on or use pinhole projectors that can cast an image of the eclipse.
The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.