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Millions of Americans await awe-inspiring total solar eclipse

Updated: 2017-08-21 20:37

Millions of Americans await awe-inspiring total solar eclipse

Solar viewing glasses and baseball caps are for sale in Carbondale, Illinois, US, August 20, 2017, one day before the total solar eclipse. [Photo/Agencies]

SALMON, Idaho/MURPHY, N.C. - Millions of Americans armed with protective glasses are taking positions along a slender ribbon of land cutting diagonally across the United States to marvel at the first total solar eclipse to unfold from coast to coast in nearly a century.

After weeks of anticipation, the sight of the moon's shadow passing directly in front of the sun, blotting out all but the halo-like solar corona, will draw one of the largest audiences in human history, experts say.

When those watching via social and broadcast media are included, the spectacle will likely smash records.

Some 12 million people live in the 70-mile-wide (113-km-wide), 2,500-mile-long (4,000-km-long) zone where the total eclipse will appear on Monday. Millions of others have traveled to spots along the route to bask in its full glory.

Murphy, North Carolina, in the Smoky Mountains about two hours north of Atlanta, is among hundreds of small towns that are preparing for a huge influx of visitors.

"The weather forecast for Monday is beautiful, probably not a cloud in the sky all day," said Dave Vanderlaan, 61, a retired landscaper. "We're busy, but tomorrow anybody in Atlanta who says they want to see total, they're going to come up to this area, so it could be crazy."

The phenomenon will first appear at 10:15 am PDT (1715 GMT) near Depoe Bay, Oregon. Some 94 minutes later, at 2:49 pm EDT (1849 GMT), totality will take its final bow near Charleston, South Carolina.

The last time such a spectacle unfolded from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast was in 1918. The last total eclipse seen anywhere in the United States took place in 1979.

Reuters

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