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

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

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.

a man looks through a microscope
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)

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.

people gather outside to watch the eclipse
Eclipse watchers fill the lawn at Observatory Park, near the University of Denver, as the sun is partially blocked by the moon. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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.

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.

an eclipse
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)

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 on a plane, wearing eclipse sunglasses
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)
kids sit on a defunct cannon, watching the eclipse
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)

The U.S. 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 North America will have to wait another 20 years for its turn. The next total solar eclipse forecast to be visible from the continent 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.

a photo of an eclipse
View of the eclipse from Plattsburgh, N.Y. (RC Concepcion)
two people look up at the sky
pectators watch the solar eclipse at Cole Memorial Park in Chester, Ill. (Cristina Fletes-Mach/STLPR)
a group sits in the grass, looking up with glasses on
The Science Center of Iowa hosted a star party at Drake University’s observatory in Des Moines, Iowa. (Madeleine Charis King/Iowa Public Radio)
a person uses a long lens to try to photograph the eclipse
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)
two people look up at hte sky
Nuns from England visiting their sisters from Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Erie, Penn. (Estefania Mitre/NPR)
two people look up at the sky, in a crowd
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)
a person dances outside, during the eclipse
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)
people in a football stadium
Thousands pack into Saluki Stadium to watch the total solar eclipse in Carbondale, Ill. (Brian Munoz/STLPR)
people sit in a field with sunglasses on to view the eclipse
People watch as the total solar eclipse begins in Millinocket, Maine, on Monday. (Raquel C. Zaldívar/New England News Collaborative)
an eclipse
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)
a person looks at the sky, in front of a clock
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)
an eclipse through the trees
The eclipse at totality in Oquossoc village in Rangeley, Maine. (Claire Harbage/NPR)
a group of people look at the sky, wearing sunglasses
The Carter-Hill family and friends wait for the eclipse in Oquossoc Village in Rangeley, Maine. (Claire Harbage/NPR)
people lay on the grass looking at the sky
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)
a man with a pair of makeshift antennas on his head
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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