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Solar eclipse 2017 [Photos] Close

People watch the start of the solar eclipse and raise their hands in prayer in an eclipse viewing event led by Native American elders, at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017.
The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

People watch the start of the solar eclipse and raise their hands in prayer in an eclipse viewing event led by Native American elders, at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

People watch the start of the solar eclipse at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017.
The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

People watch the start of the solar eclipse at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

People watch the start of the solar eclipse at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017.
The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

People watch the start of the solar eclipse at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

ROSS LAKE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21:  In this NASA handout, the Moon is seen passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse from August 21, 2017 from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe.   (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

ROSS LAKE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: In this NASA handout, the Moon is seen passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse from August 21, 2017 from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

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People are seen lining up outside the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum as a sign indicates there are no more eclipse glasses on the National Mall before an eclipse August 21, 2017 in Washington, DC.
The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SmialowskiBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

People are seen lining up outside the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum as a sign indicates there are no more eclipse glasses on the National Mall before an eclipse August 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SmialowskiBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

People watch the start of the solar eclipse and raise their hands in prayer in an eclipse viewing event led by Native American elders, at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017.
The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

People watch the start of the solar eclipse and raise their hands in prayer in an eclipse viewing event led by Native American elders, at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

This NASA handout photo shows the Moon seen as it starts passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington on August 21, 2017. 
A total solar eclipse will sweep across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe.   / AFP PHOTO / NASA / Bill INGALLS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BILL INGALLS/NASA/HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

BILL INGALLS/AFP/Getty Images

This NASA handout photo shows the Moon seen as it starts passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington on August 21, 2017. A total solar eclipse will sweep across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. / AFP PHOTO / NASA / Bill INGALLS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BILL INGALLS/NASA/HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS BILL INGALLS/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

ISLE OF PALMS, SC - AUGUST 21:  Solar eclipse fans dressed in festive attire on the beach hoping to view the total solar eclipse if the weather clears on August 21, 2017 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. It's been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. Isle of Palms is one of last vantage points where totality will be visible. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

ISLE OF PALMS, SC - AUGUST 21: Solar eclipse fans dressed in festive attire on the beach hoping to view the total solar eclipse if the weather clears on August 21, 2017 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. It's been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. Isle of Palms is one of last vantage points where totality will be visible. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

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ROSS LAKE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21:  In this NASA handout, The Moon is seen as it starts passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse August 21, 2017 from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe.   (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

ROSS LAKE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: In this NASA handout, The Moon is seen as it starts passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse August 21, 2017 from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

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Eric Colley sets up his telescope in Charleston, South Carolina, on the day of the total solar eclipse, on August 21, 2017.
The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Eric Colley sets up his telescope in Charleston, South Carolina, on the day of the total solar eclipse, on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

This NASA handout photo shows the Moon seen as it starts passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington on August 21, 2017. 
A total solar eclipse will sweep across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe.   / AFP PHOTO / NASA / Bill INGALLS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BILL INGALLS/NASA/HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

BILL INGALLS/AFP/Getty Images

This NASA handout photo shows the Moon seen as it starts passing in front of the Sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, Washington on August 21, 2017. A total solar eclipse will sweep across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. / AFP PHOTO / NASA / Bill INGALLS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BILL INGALLS/NASA/HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS BILL INGALLS/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Eric Colley (L) and his father Harvey Colley set up a telescope in Charleston, South Carolina, on the day of the total solar eclipse, on August 21, 2017.
The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Eric Colley (L) and his father Harvey Colley set up a telescope in Charleston, South Carolina, on the day of the total solar eclipse, on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

The moon is seen as it starts passing in front of the sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, in Washington on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

The moon is seen as it starts passing in front of the sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, in Washington on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

AP

ISLE OF PALMS, SC - AUGUST 21:  Solar eclipse watchers on the beach hoping to view the total solar eclipse if the weather clears on August 21, 2017 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. It's been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. Isle of Palms is one of last vantage points where totality will be visible. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

ISLE OF PALMS, SC - AUGUST 21: Solar eclipse watchers on the beach hoping to view the total solar eclipse if the weather clears on August 21, 2017 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. It's been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. Isle of Palms is one of last vantage points where totality will be visible. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

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Kwayera Davis shows a solar eclipse viewer next to a telescope which he is seeing up in Charleston, South Carolina, on the day of the total solar eclipse, on August 21, 2017.
The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Kwayera Davis shows a solar eclipse viewer next to a telescope which he is seeing up in Charleston, South Carolina, on the day of the total solar eclipse, on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

ISLE OF PALMS, SC - AUGUST 21:  Solar eclipse watchers build a "sand eclipse" on the beach, hoping to view the total solar eclipse if the weather clears on August 21, 2017 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. It's been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. Isle of Palms is one of last vantage points where totality will be visible. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

ISLE OF PALMS, SC - AUGUST 21: Solar eclipse watchers build a "sand eclipse" on the beach, hoping to view the total solar eclipse if the weather clears on August 21, 2017 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. It's been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. Isle of Palms is one of last vantage points where totality will be visible. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

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ISLE OF PALMS, SC - AUGUST 21:  Solar eclipse watchers on the beach hoping to view the total solar eclipse if the weather clears on August 21, 2017 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. It's been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. Isle of Palms is one of last vantage points where totality will be visible. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

ISLE OF PALMS, SC - AUGUST 21: Solar eclipse watchers on the beach hoping to view the total solar eclipse if the weather clears on August 21, 2017 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. It's been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. Isle of Palms is one of last vantage points where totality will be visible. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

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CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21:  Brian Marriott of Boston, Massachusetts looks in a storage container on top of his car before watching the solar eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming.  Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21: Brian Marriott of Boston, Massachusetts looks in a storage container on top of his car before watching the solar eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21:  People set up cameras and telescopes to watch the solar eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming.  Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21: People set up cameras and telescopes to watch the solar eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21:  People set up cameras and telescopes as they prepare to watch the total eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21: People set up cameras and telescopes as they prepare to watch the total eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21:  An emoji stuffed toy sits on the roof of a car at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21: An emoji stuffed toy sits on the roof of a car at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21:  People set up cameras and telescopes as they prepare to watch the total eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21: People set up cameras and telescopes as they prepare to watch the total eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21:  People set up cameras and telescopes as they prepare to watch the total eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21: People set up cameras and telescopes as they prepare to watch the total eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21:  A van displays a written message about the solar eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21: A van displays a written message about the solar eclipse at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21:  A visitor projects an image of the sun onto a piece of paper at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CASPER, WY - AUGUST 21: A visitor projects an image of the sun onto a piece of paper at South Mike Sedar Park on August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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The sun's corona is visible as the moon passes in front of the sun during a total solar eclipse at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017.
The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

The sun's corona is visible as the moon passes in front of the sun during a total solar eclipse at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

People watch the start of the solar eclipse and raise their hands in prayer in an eclipse viewing event led by Native American elders, at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on August 21, 2017. The Sun started to vanish behind the Moon as the partial phase of the so-called Great American Eclipse began Monday, with millions of eager sky-gazers soon to witness "totality" across the nation for the first time in nearly a century. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Millions of Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and protective glasses as the moon blotted out the sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the US from coast to coast in nearly a century.

"It's really, really, really, really awesome," said nine-year-old Cami Smith as she watched the fully eclipsed sun from a lane near her grandfather's home in Oregon.

The temperature dropped, birds went quiet and stars came out in the middle of the day as the line of darkness raced 2,600 miles across the continent in about 90 minutes, bringing forth shouts and screams of delight.

In Boise, Idaho, where the sun was more than 99% blocked, people clapped and whooped, and the street lights came on briefly.

It was the most observed and photographed eclipse in history, with many Americans staking out prime viewing spots and settling onto blankets and garden chairs to watch, especially along the path of totality - the line of deep shadow created when the sun is completely obscured except for the thin ring of light known as the corona.

The shadow - a corridor just 60 to 70 miles wide - came ashore in Oregon and then began travelling diagonally across the heartland to South Carolina, with darkness lasting only around two to three minutes in any one spot.

The rest of North America was treated to a partial eclipse, as were Central American and the top of South America.

With 200 million people within a day's drive from the path of totality, towns and parks saw big crowds. Skies were clear along most of the route, to the relief of those who feared cloud cover would spoil the once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Nasa reported 4.4 million people were watching its TV coverage midway through the eclipse, the biggest livestream event in the space agency's history.

"It's like nothing else you will ever see or ever do," said veteran eclipse-watcher Mike O'Leary of San Diego, who set up his camera along with hundreds of other amateur astronomers gathered in Casper, Wyoming.

"It can be religious. It makes you feel insignificant, like you're just a speck in the whole scheme of things."

Astronomers were giddy with excitement. A solar eclipse is considered one of the grandest of cosmic spectacles.

Nasa solar physicist Alex Young said the last time people had a connection like this to the heavens was during man's first flight to the moon, on Apollo 8 in 1968.

The first, famous Earthrise photo came from that mission and, like this eclipse, showed us "we are part of something bigger".

With a half hour to go before totality, Nasa's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, enjoyed the moon's "first bites out of the sun" from a plane flying over the Oregon coast and declared it "just an incredible view".

"I'm about to fight this man for a window seat," Mr Lightfoot said, referring to a fellow Nasa official.

The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man's land, like the vast Pacific or Earth's poles.

The moon has not thrown this much shade at the US since 1918, during the country's last coast-to-coast total eclipse.

In fact, the US mainland has not seen a total solar eclipse since 1979 - and even then, only five states in the north-west experienced total darkness.

Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois saw the longest stretch of darkness: two minutes and 44 seconds.

The next total solar eclipse in the US will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.

AP