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Total solar eclipse hailed as 'better than others' as crowds watch 'amazing' spectacle

Millions of people were plunged into darkness during the daytime on Monday as a total solar eclipse made its way across the United States and eastern Canada, after starting in Mexico.

The highly-anticipated eclipse saw the Earth, the sun and the moon perfectly aligned, resulting in ‘totality’ – the moment when the face of the sun is completely blocked by the moon.

The Mexican beach town of Mazatlan was the first place to witness the cosmic event at around 11.15am local time (7.15pm UK time), and cheers broke out on the promenade as it began.

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Moment of first total solar eclipse seen in Mexico

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People react to total eclipse

Hundreds of people wearing eclipse glasses had gathered in a beachside park and passed the time by listening to a youth orchestra playing Star Wars songs as images of Princess Leia were projected on a big screen.

Those viewing the phenomenon could see the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona, shining bright around the edge of the moon as it was blocked.

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People use special protective glasses to observe a total solar eclipse in Mazatlan, Mexico April 8, 2024. Pic:Reuters/Henry Romero
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People using protective glasses to watch the eclipse in Mazatlan, Mexico. Pic: Reuters/Henry Romero

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The moon covering the sun during the total eclipse

For onlookers, the total eclipse lasted up to four minutes and 28 seconds.

As the sun was covered by the moon, darkness descended and there was also a noticeable temperature drop.

People watch a total solar eclipse as the sky goes dark in Mazatlan, Mexico, Monday, April 8, 2024. Pic: AP Photo/Fernando Llano
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Darkness falling over Mazatlan, Mexico. Pic: AP Photo/Fernando Llano

The eclipse moved through multiple US states and major cities – including Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo and New York – before making its way to eastern Canada.

It took just one hour and 40 minutes for the eclipse to race along its 4,000-mile course and an early afternoon chill swept across Texas as it began its journey across the United States.

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Map showing when the eclipse will happen across the United States
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Map showing when the eclipse happened across the United States (in UK time)

Crowds refuse to let bad weather dampen the mood

The eclipse was slightly obscured by clouds in some areas, but crowds didn’t let the weather ruin the experience.

Reacting to the moment of totality in Dallas, one onlooker told Sky News: “It’s amazing, you can see the stars around it. It’s incredible.”

The moon moves in front of the sun during a total eclipse at Eagle Pass Student Activities Center, Monday, April 8, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)
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Clouds partially covered the eclipse in Eagle Pass, Texas. Pic: Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP

The solar eclipse in Texas.
Pic: AP
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The solar eclipse in Texas. Pic: AP

Clouds cover the sky prior to a total solar eclipse, Monday, April 8, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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Clouds in Arlington, Texas. Pic: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

In Georgetown, Texas, the skies cleared just in time to give spectators a clear view.

“We are really lucky,” said Susan Robertson. “Even with the clouds it is kind of nice because when it clears up it is like ‘wow’.”

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The eclipse was first visible in Mexico

Pic Reuters
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The eclipse travelled across the United States and was visible in cities such as Dallas. Pic: Reuters

The weather was kinder in Vermont, New England, where one dedicated eclipse watcher told US correspondent Mark Stone “you couldn’t ask for nicer skies”.

John, who was witnessing his eighth eclipse, said: “I was planning to go to Texas a week ago but changed my mind.

“For me, personally, this [eclipse] is better [than the others]. I wasn’t trying to photograph it, I was just enjoying the moment.”

Monday’s event was something of an anomaly as total eclipses are only meant to happen once every 375 years in any one place in the world – yet people in Illinois are seeing one for the second time in seven years.

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The moon blots out the sun, during a total solar eclipse, as seen from Carbondale, Illinois, U.S. April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
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The lucky residents of Carbondale were also in a prime position for the 2017 eclipse. Pic: Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein

The city of Carbondale saw a total solar eclipse in August 2017 and was on Monday in the path of totality yet again.

New York also got in on the action as a partial eclipse was visible from the city’s streets.

People watch the eclipse in Times Square 
Pic: Reuters
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People watch the eclipse in Times Square, New York. Pic: Reuters

People watch the partial solar eclipse as they gather on the observation deck of Edge at Hudson Yards in New York.
Pic: Reuters
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Huge crowds on the observation deck of Edge at Hudson Yards, New York. Pic: Reuters

Clouds ruin view in UK and Ireland

Stargazers had hoped the partial eclipse would be visible from cities including Dublin, Belfast, Liverpool and Edinburgh – but social media users sadly said bad weather got in the way.

The shadow passed over the homes of 32 million people in the US – and plenty more travelled to see it, with Texas alone preparing for up to one million visitors.

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Some US towns and counties declared states of emergency in a bid to get ahead of the influx of stargazers, and residents and tourists alike were told to stock up on food and water before the big day amid shortage fears.

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