Outside a church in Idaho Falls, parishioners screamed in excitement. “You see the stars!” said one. “I see Venus,” said another. “God is amazing,” yelled one woman in conclusion.
Just a few miles away, Jim Anderton in Idaho City, struggled to put the sight before him into words.
Visibly glowing in the darkness was the sun’s corona — a beautiful halo of writhing exceedingly hot gas — normally invisible, now suddenly and beautifully on display.
“It’s like someone just dipped the edge of the sun in flames,” Anderton said.
On Monday, life in America was put on hold –the nagging to do list, the deadlines at work, the political debates and divisions. Everything receded, overtaken by the celestial event of the century suddenly looming over America.
This eclipse felt different, more intimate somehow. It was the first total solar eclipse in a century to cross the continental United States, coast to coast, and the first since the founding of the republic that will pass directly over only this country.
At 10:15 a.m. Pacific Time, the total eclipse made landfall on the coast of Oregon. From there, it zipped East across America at the screaming speed of 2,100 mph. It traversed a 3,000-mile path, cutting through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, before finally disappearing off the coast of Charleston, S.C. at 2:49 p.m. Eastern time.
The whole thing — the wonder, beauty, craning of necks and searching of souls — was over from coast to coast in just 90 minutes.