Wednesday, May 29, 2024
World / North AmericaWorld News

America, split by Donald Trump v Joe Biden, comes together for solar eclipse

Philadelphia resident Ted Merriman travelled to Greenville, Maine for the eclipse.

Philadelphia resident Ted Merriman travelled to Greenville, Maine for the eclipse.Credit:

After all, the last time the US had a solar eclipse was in 2017 – when then president Donald Trump famously stared into the sky without any protective eyewear. The next eclipse on the continent won’t take place for another 40 years.

This eclipse also promised to be better than the last, firstly because the path of totality was more than 100 miles wide and spanned across parts of 15 different US states; secondly, because those under it had up to four minutes of viewing time – almost double the amount in 2017.

Philadelphia resident Ted Merriman could barely contain his excitement.

“I had flights and accommodation booked for Austin, Texas, then we cancelled when I discovered the weather was not going to co-operate,” he told me.

“So I had back-up plans for upstate New York, Vermont and Maine – and we finally decided on Maine.”

Mine was a similar journey: after scrapping plans to hire a car and drive from DC to Buffalo in New York, a friend and I decided instead to fly to Boston and then drive to Burlington in Vermont, which was initially billed as the place to be – particularly for those of us on the US east coast.

A last-minute cloudy weather forecast forced us to pivot, and we instead decided to make the 4½-hour drive from Manchester, New Hampshire starting at 5am to beat the traffic – to the town of Greenville in Maine: a tiny village of about 1400 people near the Canadian border.

We couldn’t have asked for a better spot filled with clearer skies and like-minded eclipse chasers: families with excited children; budding astrophotographers with high-tech cameras; men and women wearing tin foil hats.

By 2.07pm (EST) totality reached North America, starting in Mexico before making its celestial dash from Texas, through cities such as Cleveland, Indianapolis and Buffalo.

And then, at 3.30pm, the total eclipse hit Greenville and the crowd erupted into cheers and tears before a muted twilight took over.

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As the sun, moon and earth became perfectly aligned, I ripped off my solar eclipse glasses and stared at the incredible sight before me: the day turning into night; the misplaced shadows and light surrounding Moosehead Lake; the wonderment of the planet.

And for a few breathtaking moments, millions of strangers were connected under a big sky – and an often divided nation suddenly felt united.

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