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A rare solar eclipse darkened skies and dazzled viewers across the U.S.

The moon passes the sun during a solar eclipse on Monday in Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
Eric Lee/STLPR
The moon passes the sun during a solar eclipse on Monday in Ste. Genevieve, Mo.

Updated April 8, 2024 at 6:13 PM ET

A rare solar eclipse swept across parts of the U.S. on Monday, leaving considerable awe, mesmerizing photographs and scores of paper sunglasses in its wake.

It first appeared along Mexico's Pacific Coast just after 11 a.m. PT before crossing into Texas as a partial eclipse, progressing to totality around 1:30 p.m. CT.

It made its way north over the next several hours, bringing brief moments — no more than five minutes' worth — of daytime darkness to areas in the over 100-mile wide path of totality.

The eclipse crossed through parts of 15 states, with totality ending in Maine just after 3:30 p.m. ET. It continued from there into Canada, exiting shortly after 5:15 p.m. — and marking the last glimpse of a total solar eclipse that the contiguous U.S. will see until August 2044.

Marianna Davenport, Jada Trice, David Price, Brinson Davenport, Kassie Lamoureux, Landon Gardner, and Hannah Noble watch the eclipse in Searcy, Ark.
/ Nick Michael/NPR
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Nick Michael/NPR
Marianna Davenport, Jada Trice, David Price, Brinson Davenport, Kassie Lamoureux, Landon Gardner, and Hannah Noble watch the eclipse in Searcy, Ark.
Chris Mandrell, project cooridinator for Southern Illinois University's dynamic eclipse broadcast, focuses a telescope ahead of the total solar eclipse on Sunday at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.
/ Brian Munoz/STLPR
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Brian Munoz/STLPR
Chris Mandrell, project cooridinator for Southern Illinois University's dynamic eclipse broadcast, focuses a telescope ahead of the total solar eclipse on Sunday at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.

Americans traveled, braving traffic and crowds

Over 30 million Americans live within the path of totality, according to NASA — and many more traveled, either across town or out of state, for peak eclipse viewing.

Many communities in the path had long been preparing for the eclipse, the first in the U.S. since 2017.

Officials in Houlton, Maine — the last U.S. city in the eclipse's path — spent over two years planning days of festivities. So did Muncie, Ind., where one museum official told NPR the city was expecting some 100,000 visitors — nearly doubling the population.

In the days leading up to the eclipse, the governors of Arkansas and Indiana and leaders in several counties and cities across the eclipse's path declared states of emergency to make more resources available to deal with the influx of visitors.

Monday morning saw roads snarled with traffic and parking lots packed to capacity, according to NPR stations.

Bride and groom Kylee and Michael Rice prepare to take a hot air balloon ride before a planned mass wedding of over 200 couples at the Total Eclipse of the Heart festival Monday in Russellville, Ark.
Mario Tama / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Bride and groom Kylee and Michael Rice prepare to take a hot air balloon ride before a planned mass wedding of over 200 couples at the Total Eclipse of the Heart festival in Russellville, Ark.
Eclipse watchers fill the lawn at Observatory Park, near the University of Denver, as the sun is partially blocked by the moon. April 8, 2024.
/ Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
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Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Eclipse watchers fill the lawn at Observatory Park, near the University of Denver, as the sun is partially blocked by the moon.

In Vermont — which was bracing for some 160,000 visitors — municipal garages in Burlington were full by 11 a.m. ET, more than four hours ahead of totality. Newport mayor Linda Joy Sullivan told Vermont Edition that visitors were coming from all over the world, including in 90 private planes.

Cleveland dispatched traffic officers across the city to facilitate movement on the roads, flooded with cars both for the eclipse and the Cleveland Guardians' home opener.

Across the path of totality, viewers gathered at parks, science centers, schools and other community centers to take in the scene. They could be seen craning their necks and heard clapping and cheering as the sky darkened.

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Cloudy weather didn't dampen spirits

Forecasters have spent days trying to pinpoint how potential rainy or cloudy weather could put a damper on eclipse viewing and warning of possible storms in Texas and other places.

The National Weather Service confirmed midday Monday that cloud coverage would impact the view throughout much of the path of totality, though the clouds would be high enough in certain areas — largely in New England — to not obscure it completely.

The moon begins to pass over the lower part of the sun during a total solar eclipse, seen from Pittock Mansion in Portland, Ore.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB
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OPB
The moon begins to pass over the lower part of the sun during a total solar eclipse, seen from Pittock Mansion in Portland, Ore.
Mindy and Jas Gill take photos with daughter Jaclyn, 15, and Jasmine, 10 during the totality Monday at the Dallas Cotton Bowl Stadium.
Yfat Yossifor / KERA
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Yfat Yossifor/KERA
Mindy and Jas Gill take photos with daughter Jaclyn, 15, and Jasmine, 10 during the totality during the eclipse event at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas.

The forecast saw some people pivot to backup plans — like Monica and Prashant Joshi and their son Ved, of New Jersey, who rebooked their flights from Dallas to Vermont last week.

But many others still flocked to North and Central Texas, which had some of the longest totality times in the country and were expected to draw up to a million travelers — and a sizable corresponding boom in business. Clouds didn't stop crowds from forming — and buying eclipse-themed merchandise — in Dallas.

The eclipse isn't the only thing the National Weather Service was watching on Monday. It said dangerous storms were expected to develop around and after the eclipse across a large portion of Texas, south Oklahoma, southwest Arkansas and Louisiana.

Those storms were forecast to bring large hail, damaging winds and tornado threats to the area, adding another potential complication to many peoples' post-eclipse travel.

Passengers cheer as Southwest Flight 1910 departs highlighting the total solar eclipse from St. Louis to Houston, Texas at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri.
/ Michael B. Thomas for NPR
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Michael B. Thomas for NPR
Passengers cheer as Southwest Flight 1910 departs highlighting the total solar eclipse from St. Louis to Houston, Texas at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri.
Kids watch the total eclipse begin sitting on a cannon out in front of the Vermont State Montpelier, Vermont on April 8, 2024.
Jesse Costa / WBUR
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WBUR
Kids watch the total eclipse begin sitting on a cannon out in front of the Vermont State House in Montpelier, Vermont.

The Lower 48 will have to wait two decades for another total solar eclipse

The next total solar eclipse will be visible in Greenland, Iceland, Spain, Russia and part of Portugal in August 2026, according to NASA.

But the Lower 48 will have to wait another 20 years for its turn. The next total solar eclipse forecast to be visible from the contiguous U.S. isn't until August 2044 — and that one is expected to only touch North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

The following year will see another total solar eclipse across much more of the country. It is expected to happen on Aug. 12, 2045, and span from California to Florida.

View of the eclipse from Plattsburgh, N.Y.
/ RC Concepcion
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RC Concepcion
View of the eclipse from Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Spectators watch the solar eclipse at Cole Memorial Park in Chester, Ill.
/ Cristina Fletes-Mach/STLPR
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Cristina Fletes-Mach/STLPR
Spectators watch the solar eclipse at Cole Memorial Park in Chester, Ill.
The Science Center of Iowa hosted a star party at Drake University's observatory in Des Moines, Iowa.
/ Madeleine Charis King/Iowa Public Radio
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Madeleine Charis King/Iowa Public Radio
The Science Center of Iowa hosted a star party at Drake University's observatory in Des Moines, Iowa.
Indira Poovambur, of North Olmsted, Ohio, attempts to take a photo of the sun via the LCD screen of a camera with a telephoto lens outside the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland.
/ Ryan Loew/Ideastream Public Media
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Ryan Loew/Ideastream Public Media
Indira Poovambur, of North Olmsted, Ohio, attempts to take a photo of the sun via the LCD screen of a camera with a telephoto lens outside the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland.
Nuns from England visiting their sisters from Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Erie, Penn.
/ Estefania Mitre/NPR
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Estefania Mitre/NPR
Nuns from England visiting their sisters from Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Erie, Penn.
Spectators gather near the Beltline in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward to view the solar eclipse.
/ Matthew Pearson/WABE
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Matthew Pearson/WABE
Spectators gather near the Beltline in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward to view the solar eclipse.
A woman drawing the eclipse during the watch party at The Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas.
/ Patricia Lim/KUT News
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Patricia Lim/KUT News
A woman drawing the eclipse during the watch party at The Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas.
A telescope projects the solar eclipse on a filter on Monday, April 8, 2024, at the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center in Ste. Genevieve.
/ Eric Lee/STLPR
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Eric Lee/STLPR
A telescope projects the solar eclipse on a filter on Monday, April 8, 2024, at the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center in Ste. Genevieve.
People watch in awe outside the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland as the totality of the solar eclipse occurs.
/ Ryan Loew/Ideastream Public Media
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Ryan Loew/Ideastream Public Media
People watch in awe outside the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland as the totality of the solar eclipse occurs.
Mark Chambers from California uses a filter to take a photo with his phone during the eclipse event at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas, Texas.
Yfat Yossifor / KERA
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KERA
Mark Chambers from California uses a filter to take a photo with his phone during the eclipse event at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas, Texas.
Sipayik resident Chris Sockeeson, center, who belongs to the Passamaquoddy tribe and of the Turning Eagle Drum Group, dances as the group plays in Millinocket, Maine.
/ Raquel C. Zaldívar/New England News Collaborative
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Raquel C. Zaldívar/New England News Collaborative
Sipayik resident Chris Sockbeson, center, who belongs to the Passamaquoddy tribe and of the Turning Eagle Drum Group, dances as the group plays in Millinocket, Maine.
Maeve Beebe (right), 4, of Auburn, Mich., makes crescent-shaped shadows with a colander alongside her cousin, Gavin Stodolak (far left), 3, of South Lyon, Mich., and her brother, Everett, 7, at Cole Memorial Park in Chester, Ill.
/ Cristina Fletes-Mach/STLPR
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Cristina Fletes-Mach/STLPR
Maeve Beebe (right), 4, of Auburn, Mich., makes crescent-shaped shadows with a colander alongside her cousin, Gavin Stodolak (far left), 3, of South Lyon, Mich., and her brother, Everett, 7, at Cole Memorial Park in Chester, Ill.
Thousands pack into Saluki Stadium to watch the total solar eclipse in Carbondale, Ill.
/ Brian Munoz/STLPR
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Brian Munoz/STLPR
Thousands pack into Saluki Stadium to watch the total solar eclipse in Carbondale, Ill.
People watch as the total solar eclipse begins in Millinocket, Maine, on Monday.
/ Raquel C. Zaldívar/New England News Collaborative
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Raquel C. Zaldívar/New England News Collaborative
People watch as the total solar eclipse begins in Millinocket, Maine, on Monday.
Baily's Beads seen as the moon moves away from the sun during the total solar eclipse as seen from Montpelier, Vermont.
Jesse Costa / WBUR
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WBUR
A Diamond Ring is seen as the moon moves away from the sun during the total solar eclipse as seen from Montpelier, Vermont.
Visitors to the Milwaukee Public Museum look through eclipse glasses as it gets closer to the hour where the eclipse will reach it's peak 90% coverage in Milwaukee, Wisc.
/ Michael Zamora/NPR
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Michael Zamora/NPR
Visitors to the Milwaukee Public Museum look through eclipse glasses as it gets closer to the hour where the eclipse will reach it's peak 90% coverage in Milwaukee, Wisc.
The Carter-Hill family and friends wait for the eclipse in Oquossoc Village in Rangeley, Maine.
/ Claire Harbage/NPR
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Claire Harbage/NPR
The Carter-Hill family and friends wait for the eclipse in Oquossoc Village in Rangeley, Maine.
The eclipse at totality in Oquossoc village in Rangeley, Maine.
/ Claire Harbage/NPR
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Claire Harbage/NPR
The eclipse at totality in Oquossoc village in Rangeley, Maine.
Thousands of people came to the National Mall in order to see the partial eclipse of the sun and to enjoy the Solar Eclipse Festival.
Tyrone Turner / WAMU
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WAMU
Thousands of people came to the National Mall in order to see the partial eclipse of the sun and to enjoy the Solar Eclipse Festival.
The Science Center of Iowa hosted a star party at Drake University's observatory Monday afternoon in Des Moines. The event — and clear skies — drew hundreds of Iowans of every age group who camped out for hours to watch the partial eclipse.
/ Madeleine Charis King/Iowa Public Radio
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Madeleine Charis King/Iowa Public Radio
The Science Center of Iowa hosted a star party at Drake University's observatory Monday afternoon in Des Moines. The event — and clear skies — drew hundreds of Iowans of every age group who camped out for hours to watch the partial eclipse.


Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Rachel Treisman
Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
Grace Widyatmadja