It’s not everyday you get to see a solar eclipse. But for millions of Americans on Aug. 21, 2017, this fantasy became a reality.
The last opportunity to view a nationwide total solar eclipse was on June 8, 1918, so it’s easy to see why eclipse chasers all around the world packed their bags and headed into the band of totality for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Eclipses occur because of periodic alignments of the Earth, sun, and moon. According to NASA, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the path of the Earth around the sun, blocking the sun from view.
A partial eclipse was visible beyond nationwide as well. Northern Canada and Northern South America were also able to view the phenomenon.
For most people across the United States, only a partial eclipse could be seen. But a path of totality stretched 70 miles wide, and reaching from Lincoln City, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, where lucky viewers could see a dark sky in the middle of the day.
Whether you could see the total eclipse or not, NASA livestreamed the experience on their website, and it was recorded as being the most-viewed web event in their history.
La Mesa was a city in which a partial eclipse was visible. Several students and classes took to the hallways to experience the awe-striking event.
Special eclipse glasses sold out quickly as people took to their local convenience stores to purchase a pair for safe viewing.
The American Astronomical Society, or AAS, stressed that “The only safe way to look directly at the […] sun is through special-purpose solar filters […] Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight.”
Throughout the country, people took to Twitter to express their awe of the eclipse in six words, using the hashtag, #Eclipsein6.
Twitter user Tara Williams wrote, “Unlike anything I’ve borne witness to.” Alisa Scott also shared her experience, writing, “Magical and ephemeral, a lifelong memory.”
Celebrities such as Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Degeneres, and Ryan Seacrest used their social media platforms to showcase their eclipse, from witty Tweets to selfies in their eclipse glasses.
For those of you who missed the eclipse, don’t worry! The next opportunity for totality is predicted to pass through a stretch of land from Texas to Maine on Apr. 8, 2024, according to NASA.