North American residents look to the sky in search of a rare total solar eclipse | Space

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Preparations for an important golf tournament come to a standstill. Schools empty of students. And thousands of people across North America turned their eyes to the sky to observe a rare celestial event.

On Monday, parts of Canada, Mexico and the United States received special treatment. Total solar eclipsea phenomenon that will not emerge for two decades.

Complete total eclipses They’re not exactly uncommon: they occur about once every 18 months, when the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking its light.

But most solar eclipses occur where people can’t see them, for example, in isolated stretches of ocean.

Monday’s total solar eclipse, therefore, offered a relatively rare opportunity for scientists and everyday stargazers to enjoy the shadow cast by the moon, without having to go to great lengths to experience it.

The last time a total solar eclipse occurred in North America was in 2017. The next opportunity for North Americans will come in 2044 and 2045, although other regions of the world will get their chance sooner.

In 2026, for example, a total solar eclipse is expected to move south from the Arctic and appear over Greenland, Iceland and parts of Spain.

Monday’s celestial spectacle began around 11 a.m. local time (18:00 GMT) on the west coast of Mexico, where the resort city of Mazatlán saw tourists crowd its beaches to watch.

The path of totality (the strip of land where the total solar eclipse was visible) slid from Mexico to central Texas, where the prospect of severe weather forced the cancellation of a local eclipse festival.

The Texas Eclipse Festival in Burnet cited “risks of high winds, tornado activity, large hail and thunderstorms” as reasons for canceling the four-day event.

The path of totality then continued through the southern United States and toward the northeast, tracing the border with Canada.

Schools in US states such as New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana canceled classes and closed for the day, partly to allow students to enjoy the event and partly for safety reasons.

The Pine-Richland School District in Pennsylvania, for example, noted that the eclipse was scheduled to occur at the same time that classes would otherwise be closed.

“The potential is significant for students to be tempted to view it without appropriate safety precautions when leaving the school building or getting off the school bus,” the district said. wrote on their website.

Even outside the path of totality, thousands of people gathered in open spaces to catch a glimpse of the moon seemingly taking a bite out of the sun.

In Washington, DC, where the moon covered more than 87 percent of the sun’s surface at peak time at 3:20 p.m. local time (19:20 GMT), people gathered on rooftops and on the National Mall to witness the eclipse.

Even at the height of the eclipse, it remained bright outside on a cloudless Monday.

Meanwhile, at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, a major U.S. golf championship, players briefly looked up from the greens where they were practicing to stare at a sphere much larger than a golf ball.

The last time the tournament was interrupted by an eclipse was in 1940. Organizers handed out tournament-branded glasses specially designed for the eclipse, which was only partially visible from the southern state.

Speaking to the PGA Tour website, professional golfer Brian Harman gave a nod to some of the superstitions and folk tales circulating about the eclipse.

“This is pretty well timed,” he joked. “You can see the end of the world at Augusta National, right?”

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