Timber wood This article is part of a special report on the total solar eclipse that will be visible from parts of the U.S., Mexico and Canada on April 8, 2024.

We’re Scientific American staffers—of course we’ll chase a total solar eclipse across the U.S.

During April 8’s event, a dozen people from across the SciAm team spread out along much of the path of totality—from Texas to Vermont—eager to see the moon blot out the sun. For some, it was their first chance at viewing a total solar eclipse. A few others had caught the 2017 eclipse that crossed the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina.

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In the days leading up to Monday’s eclipse, weather concerns were rampant, with clouds threatening to hide the spectacle along much of the narrow strip of totality. Viewers early in the event did struggle with weather conditions. But for those who were able to catch a glimpse of totality, the sight was well worth the hassle of getting to a place where it could be seen.

Mason, Tex.

We got so lucky! After days of watching weather forecasts and planning furiously—and then setting out early this morning for a spot that looked like it might have a break in the clouds—we feel so grateful that we got a perfect view of totality.

Senior space and physics editor Clara Moskowitz watched the eclipse from Mason, Tex.

Clara Moskowitz

Just a half-hour later it clouded over again here and started raining a bit, so we really lucked out. When the moon finally crept fully over the sun and totality began, there were screams and cheers and many people crying, including some of the SciAm team. We all felt euphoric, relieved, exhilarated, overwhelmed. It was amazing! —Clara Moskowitz, senior editor, space and physics

Dallas, Tex.

With clouds looming over North Texas, NASA’s event at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Tex., was slow to warm up. Around noon the sun started to peek through the clouds, spurring a lot of excitement. But soon after, it disappeared again. “Go away clouds,” the crowd chanted.

About five minutes before totality began, the clouds in Dallas officially parted, and the crowd at the Cotton Bowl witnessed an unimpeded solar eclipse. As the moon crossed over the sun’s disk, the air temperature dropped noticeably, causing a stir among the folks sitting in the stands. Swifts, which normally come out at dusk, started flying around, and the sky darkened to something akin to sunset. The music dimmed, the crowd quieted, and amateur astronomers checked their equipment in one of the end zones to make sure they would get the perfect view.

Eclipse viewers at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Tex.

Megha Satyanarayana

Giancarlo Velazquez, aged 16, was thrilled to spend his birthday at the eclipse with his sisters and mother, Ana Rivera. She said the family came because Giancarlo’s sister Isabella Velazquez, aged nine, is a huge space fan, and Rivera thought it would be a good way for Isabella to learn about space. Regarding Isabella, her older sister Stephanie Velazquez said, “I’m learning everything from her.” Isabella said she was looking forward to school and seeing her friends on Tuesday because “it’s going to be crazy about what happened today.”

As Baily’s beads sparkled at the end of totality, people gasped and cheered at these flashes of sunlight popping through valleys in the moon’s terrain. As the eclipse waned, some people stayed in place, marveling at the moment that had passed and the stroke of luck that allowed them to see what Giancarlo called a “once-in-a-lifetime event.” —Megha Satyanarayana, chief opinion editor

Little Rock, Ark.

It’s a sunny day in Little Rock, Ark. There’s a small crowd of picnickers gathered by the side of the Arkansas River. The mood is one of relaxed anticipation. Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse” is blaring from across the river. My friends and I have brought a colander and a homemade pinhole camera to see the projection of the moon crossing the sun. As we approach totality, it’s getting noticeably darker, like there’s a fine a mist over everything. It’s getting very dark and breezy now—very dreamlike. Now the diamond is visible, and all of a sudden, we’re in totality!

There are no words—just awe.

Totality captured in Little Rock, Ark.

Tanya Lewis

Once I’ve recovered my senses, I reflect: The view is bigger than I thought. The solar corona flares out from the moon like a wispy halo. We have two and a half glorious minutes of totality, and then the sun suddenly peeks out from the edge, and the world feels instantly brighter again. It’s just magnificent. —Tanya Lewis, senior editor, health and medicine

Wooster, Ohio

Well, THAT was fun! We had high, thin clouds but could see through them with eclipse glasses. As totality approached, the birds went bananas: bluebirds, robins, chickadees, Chipping Sparrows and House Finches all sang like a dawn chorus rather than exhibiting the stillness you’d expect at 3 P.M. I was visiting family in Ohio and had kept my expectations low because it is usually cloudy there this time of year. Totality was spectacular—sudden darkness and the moon surrounded by the ring of fire, the solar prominences, Baily’s beads. The temperature dropped dramatically, and the wind picked up as we whooped and jumped up and down and praised orbital dynamics and being together for a spectacular moment in this glorious solar system. And afterward we enjoyed the burst of light as the sun broke back through. Then the sliver of sun turned into a smile and then into a Pac-Man, and then it was over until next time. —Laura Helmuth, editor in chief

Botkins, Ohio

Well, that was absolutely stunning. I gasped involuntarily as soon as totality struck. After spending an hour seeing only a crude outline with my eclipse glasses, it was breathtaking to take them off and see such detail. The corona didn’t look how I imagined it at all—I expected it to be more of a fiery, orangey ring peeking out from behind the moon, but instead it was wispy and whitish. There was so much dimension to the light, like when one sees rays of sunlight peak through clouds. All of this detail was so crisp that it almost looked fake, like CGI in a movie. I traveled to Botkins, Ohio, just south of the town where Neil Armstrong was born and raised and learned to fly. There I viewed the eclipse with friends from their huge backyard, which is surrounded by farmland. The neighboring houses were pretty far away, but you could still hear people yelling from every direction as soon as the darkness arrived. Almost immediately after totality began, we noticed a little red light at the very bottom of the sun. At first we thought it was the sun already starting to peek out from behind the moon, but it was too early for that, and the light remained fairly constant throughout totality. I’m really excited to find out what that was! —Allison Parshall, associate news editor

Lyndhurst, Ohio

It seems like it’s always cloudy in Cleveland—but it wasn’t that cloudy in Cleveland! I had a busy afternoon talking about eclipse science at John Carroll University. Then I headed to my aunt and uncle’s to catch the view. We shared solar binoculars with neighbors to see the sunspots and played around with projecting shadows as thin, wispy clouds came and went. It was surprisingly beautiful weather, so the dip in temperature as it got darker was really noticeable.

The total solar eclipse as seen in Lyndhurst, Ohio.

Jonathan Lewin

As totality hit, we watched “sunset” happen all around us and wondered about a little pink spot we could see at the bottom of the corona during totality—it turns out this must have been a solar prominence. It was lovely to lie back in the grass surrounded by family and see the sweep of that epic shadow engulf us. The corona wasn’t quite as sharp as when I saw the 2017 eclipse in North Carolina, but the active sun still provided a spectacular show. —Sarah Lewin Frasier, assistant news editor

Buffalo, N.Y.

Well, one advantage of being in total cloud cover is that when totality came, it was totally dark. The light dropped rapidly, with clouds blocking any scatter.

Clouds obscured the view of the eclipse in Buffalo, N.Y.

Mark Fischetti

One owl nearby let out a hoot and followed it with a second utterance. Another owl in the distance replied. We still caught a few haunting glimpses of a crescent sun when it happened to burn through! —Mark Fischetti, senior editor, sustainability

We knew it was going to be cloudy here, so we watched the NASA livestream of totality beginning in Mazatlán, Mexico, before going outside, and that in itself was breathtaking to watch. Once we were outside, breaks in the clouds allowed us to see great views of the partial eclipse every five minutes or so. In my sketchbook I recorded the crescent of the sun changing shape over time. As the sky became noticeably dimmer, we saw many flocks of starlings flying to their roosts. The sky got darker and darker—and then suddenly darker some more, to a degree that we hadn’t thought possible. Unfortunately, clouds covered the corona entirely during the three minutes and 45 seconds of totality, but it was still a very emotional experience. We laughed and cried. It seemed to last for a long time. When the sky suddenly brightened again, it was like being reborn. —Emily Makowski, associate copy editor

Rochester, N.Y.

The day started with a blue sky streaked with wispy clouds. We held onto our coffees—juices, for those of us who attend elementary school—as tightly as we held onto our hope that only wisps of cloud would remain. Wisps were welcome in the face of a bleak, gray forecast.

And as the cloud cover grew suddenly from wisps to a thick, gray blanket, no cheer was lost in the crowd gathered outside the Rochester Museum & Science Center. After a few hours exploring the museum, the sky remained unchanged—just gray. Goodbye, sweet wisps.

Cloudy skies in Rochester darkened during the eclipse.

Jackie Clark

Still, we joined a few hundred others in the museum parking lot and counted down to the three-ish minutes of totality. Darkness fell quickly and observably, creeping toward us along the gray blanket. That alone was magnificent. We all breathed in few seconds of brilliant darkness, awed and silent. Then came the ringing laughter of the crowd as the parking lot floodlights automatically and audibly came to life, flooding our perfect darkness with light. Good cheer remained.

I don’t know if anyone got exactly what they expected, but we were in it together, and that togetherness was totality cool. (I had to fit a totality pun in there somewhere.) —Jackie Clark, data analyst

Split Rock Wilderness Study Area, New York State

I wasn’t going to pursue totality—I live in the northern Catskills, and a 90 percent coverage seemed good enough. But my parents, who drove up from New Jersey and stayed with us on Sunday night, convinced my husband and I to join them in far upstate New York. We went to the Split Rock Wilderness Study Area on Lake Champlain and hiked two miles through deep mud and hemlock forest to reach Ore Bed Overlook. The rock outcroppings faced southwest, toward the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains—an ideal perch for a late afternoon eclipse.

Jen Schwartz and her husband, C.J., viewing the eclipse in Split Rock Wilderness Study Area on Lake Champlain, N.Y.

Debby Schwartz

Only a few other small groups joined us. As the light dimmed, the effect on the snowy slopes of the High Peaks resembled an alpenglow, and Lake Champlain turned deep gray. As totality arrived—like a switch went off!—the orange horizon lit up the High Peaks like a golden backlight. —Jen Schwartz, senior editor, technology and mind

Maidstone Lake, Vt.

I watched the eclipse from a wooden dock overlooking the (mostly) frozen Maidstone Lake in northeastern Vermont. It was perfect eclipse kismet. There were completely clear, blue skies and unobstructed views of the surrounding ridgelines blanketed in conifers. In the lead up to totality, people couldn’t help but declare what shape the sun resembled (cookie, croissant, banana, boomerang). We noted the light dimming and flattening at around halfway to totality. We had a colander to capture the shrinking crescent shadows, which also showed up between peoples’ fingers and hair. We heard others laughing and hollering on their own docks down the shore.

Onlookers enjoy the total solar eclipse from Maidstone Lake, Vt.

Lauren Leffer

Just before totality, each of us had our neck craned, staring up through eclipse glasses in anticipation. The last line of the sunlight looked orangey red as it shrunk. At totality, it was about two minutes of a “360-degree sunset,” with an amber glow over all the mountains. The sun was a perfect circle of iridescent white light around a dark marble. Baily’s beads were little diamond sparkles along the sun’s margin. People on a distant beach set off fireworks that we could hear but not see. Our own excited shouting mixed with the whoops from other crowds. We forgot to listen to what the birds were doing. Just as the sun reemerged, we watched shadow bands dance across the ground. The light returned quickly, and soon people were making plans to catch the next big total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 2045. —Lauren Leffer, contributing writer

Beyond Totality: Brooklyn, N.Y.

We walked down to Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery, where thousands were gathered to watch the partial eclipse.

Crowds gathered at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., to watch the partial solar eclipse visible there.

Andrea Thompson

There was an eerie quality to the light and shadows at peak coverage, though it’s amazing how bright it still was outside even with close to 90 percent of the sun’s disk covered. (I was able to see totality during the 2017 eclipse in Nashville, Tenn., and the sudden rush of darkness is otherworldly.) People were stopping on their walks, sitting on chairs on street corners and asking one another if they’d seen the eclipse yet. —Andrea Thompson, associate editor, sustainability

Editor’s Note: Throughout April 8, this article will be updated with additional content as it becomes available.

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