World Bulletin / News Desk
Viewers braved long lines at the National Air and Space Museum, to watch the sun from a gigantic telescope before 2.30 P.M. (1630GMT), when the eclipse began in the U.S. capital.
“This eclipse is really special, because it is a first time in almost 100 years that total solar eclipses crossing north America from coast to coast," Rebecca Ljungren, Astronomy educator at National Air and Space Museum told Anadolu Agency.
"It's really special because there is a lot of people that live here in North America and who have the access to not only the path of totality, but to see the partial eclipse as well like we are doing here in Washington D.C.,” Ljungren added.
NASA reported 4.4 million people across the country were watching it’s livestream coverage midway through the eclipse, the biggest livestream event in the space agency's history.
Those who missed getting special free glasses from the Air and Space Museum, made their own pin hole cameras crafted from cardboard and aluminum foil to watch the eclipse.
"There is no need to wait in line that long for the glasses, I made my own," declared Austin Coburn, a 29-year-old sales associate, holding his homemade viewing glasses. "It works perfectly.”
President Donald Trump, first lady Melania and their 11-year-old son Barron also watched the eclipse from the balcony of the White House.
"Exciting to watch the total eclipse with @potus today! #Eclipse2017," the first lady tweeted.
Hundreds flocked to the American Museum of Natural History, holding viewing glasses and pinhole cameras to follow the eclipse as the sun partially disappeared behind the moon.
Viewers gasped and shouted in excitement as the peak moment of more than 70 percent coverage approached at around 2.43 p.m. (1643GMT), only to have the sun get blocked behind a thick blanket of cloud.
Clarissa, 9, experienced the event for the first time.
“It’s like something is blocking the sun,” Clarissa said.
Thousands of people across New York also watched the so-called “Eclipse of the Century” at viewing parties and rooftop meet- ups. They even watched from helicopters hovering above the city, as well as Central Park and Times Square.
Marlene Keene, art director and New York City resident of 30 years, said her son traveled to Portland, Oregon, for a cloudless experience in the path of totality, but she stayed behind.
“I just find it eerie,” Keene said with a smile. “Once you see it, then you get it, but to me it’s all about this,” she said, looking at the crowd enjoying the eclipse.
“The other thing is climate change, how some people don’t accept it,” Keene said. “Feels like the nature is bigger than all of us.
“We can’t control any of this, that is going on up here. And it kind of reminds you that we have got to take care of it," she added.
The last total solar eclipse in the U.S. was on Feb. 26, 1979. Its path went through the northwestern states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, according to NASA.
The next eclipse will be April 8, 2024, which will be visible from Texas to Maine.
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