The day of the Great American Eclipse had finally arrived.
Today, following a course charted before the dawn of history, the moon will pass between the sun and Earth and cast a shadow onto a wide swath of land.
At 10:15 a.m. Pacific time, the shadow of that total eclipse will first make landfall on the tiny town of Depoe Bay, Ore. (population 1,398). From there, at a screaming speed of 2,100 mph, the eclipse’s shadow will zip across America on a 3,000-mile path, cutting through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina. Finally at 2:49 p.m. Eastern time, it will disappear off the coast of Charleston, S.C, NASA reports.
The whole thing will be over from coast to coast in just 90 minutes.
Even people not on that path, however, will see a partial eclipse of the sun — like a cookie with a bite taken out of it. The closer you are to the path of the total eclipse, the bigger that shadow will be.
The sky darkens. The temperature drops. And where the sun should be, people will see instead a black circle, ringed by a halo of light. That halo, called the sun’s corona, consists of a writhing mass of exceedingly hot gas in the sun’s atmosphere, invisible under normal circumstances.