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Updated 9:22 PM  |  August 21, 2017

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Watch highlights from the great American eclipse

For one brief moment, day became night.

And the sun was replaced by a black circle — ringed on all sides with gleaming white fire.

As the Great American Eclipse made landfall in the tiny coastal town of Newport, Ore., the rowdy crowd that gathered on its beach was stunned by the sight into an eerie silence.

In Casper, Wyo., a man blew a shofar, as others rang bells and let loose whoops and roars erupted from the crowd. Birds, startled by the darkness, darted in every direction.

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.

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.

Read more here.

Tennessee: Beautiful, but weird

NASHVILLE — While clouds briefly obscured the view of the sun from the Nashville zoo as Monday’s partial eclipse began, it quickly reemerged and remained unobstructed throughout the afternoon, including the entire two minutes of totality.

Nearly 7,000 people came to the zoo for the eclipse, according to spokesman Jim Bartoo. Traffic and parking were unexpectedly manageable. The zoo’s safety team had to assist a couple people suffering from the symptoms related to the high temperature and humidity, but Bartoo said that’s normal for any summer day at the Tennessee zoo.

George Foutch, 50, a chauffeur from nearby Joelton, said it was “without a doubt worth it” to take the day off and spend it at the zoo with his 8-year-old son Garrett.

“It was incredible,” Garrett Foutch said. “I hadn’t seen one before. There were two facts I didn’t realize. The shadows coming through the trees were sickle-shaped, and also right before and after totality there was shimmering on the ground due to the uneven surface of the moon.”

Foutch said he was interested to notice owls start to wake up, sheep start to go to sleep, and cows continue to eat as if nothing was happening.

Many zoo employees took a break from work to gather in their parking lot for totality. While they weren’t near any exotic animals, they did report seeing bats emerge and increased insect activity. Carolyn Diaz, 30, a member of the human resources department, had less effusive feelings about the eclipse, which she said produced a “weird, drunk feeling.”

“I felt very off-kilter,” Diaz said. “It felt like when you feel very weak and overtired and off-balance. It was beautiful, but weird. I’m ready for this day to be over.”

In Nashville, zoo animals act out. Did the eclipse cause it? Or the human shouts?

As the sun shriveled to a bright eyelash in the sky, it felt as if all 6,750 people at the Nashville Zoo were cresting the first hill of a roller coaster together.

The collective anticipation and exhilaration built into a palpable energy as the light flattened, and visitors gathered around Flamingo Lagoon began to shout excitedly.

Then, a collective roar, accompanied the descent — into darkness, that is.

The temperature dropped noticeably from a sweltering 93 degrees. Whether it was the cooler air or awe-inspired goosebumps, many spectators reported a simultaneous shiver.

While the flamingos’ reaction paled in comparison to the humans’, there was some noticeably odd behavior. As the sky darkened, the birds left the water and huddled on one side of their exhibit. Then, as sunlight returned, they pranced back into the water flapping their wings animatedly, just as they do in the morning, a zookeeper explained.

Reports from all corners of the zoo began to circulate as visitors dispersed following totality and zookeepers reported back to the administration building. The gazelles reportedly “went nuts.” Siamang apes climbed to the tallest branches of their trees and then grasped even higher with their arms. A female clouded leopard stared at the crowd standing transfixed on nearby pathway when it usually would be napping in a tree. A komodo dragon stood up and looked “freaked out.” Giraffes bolted. Macaws and many other bird species reacted noisily and attempted to go inside to nest and feed. Bats briefly filled the sky and insects became noticeably louder

In short, there was no lack of the eclipse-related animal behaviors that the zoo was encouraging visitors to record and share for a crowdsourced research project. But there also is one major hurdle to drawing any conclusions from the data being collected: the inability to control for whether the animals were reacting to the eclipse, or reacting to the humans’ reaction to the eclipse.

“That is one thing we weren’t expecting,” said bird supervisor Shelley Norris. “The big cheer of thousands of people.”

Rhino keeper Amelia Davis and giraffe keeper Jenna Wolczyk reported similar experiences with their animals. The rhinos seemed content to continue enjoying their daily afternoon nap until “5,000 people screamed at the same time,” Davis said, which sent them running toward their barn.

“The rhinos don’t like loud noises like that, especially all of a sudden,” Davis said.

Wolczyk said the giraffes also were content until they heard the crowd’s reaction.

“That spooked the giraffes, and they all took off running, which is quite unusual for our 12-year-old male (Congo),” Wolczyk said of the moment of “collective gasping” when totality hit. “I don’t know whether to call it an excited roar or joyous sigh. I’m getting goosebumps again.”

Despite the combination of human commotion and midday darkness, some animals didn’t react at all. A panda continued to sleep, and nesting turtles couldn’t have cared less.

“There was only one goat who seemed to be bothered by it,” said zookeeper Ben Pugh.

“But he’s also afraid of thunderstorms and airplanes,” zookeeper Megan Baker replied. “We just hugged him through it.”

Several kangaroos also had a negative reaction, but zookeeper Nate Morris felt it was mostly due to the “antisocial” creatures reacting to the awe-struck people packing the their walkthrough exhibit. It didn’t help that one zoo patron reportedly had to be removed from restricted areas multiple times because he “just wanted to touch” the marsupials. At about 2:45 p.m., zoo receptionist Kathy Daniel radioed all zoo staff to be on the lookout for the man, described as being mid-40s in a gray shirt with the sleeves cut off and khaki shorts.

Woman who waited 16 years for the eclipse reflects on totality and the next one

Kay Wyatt has been waiting for the eclipse since she moved to the path of totality on the Oregon coast 16 years ago. For days, she and her husband, Steve, have been getting their home observatory in Otis ready, testing photo systems and setting up their telescopes just right. But nothing could have prepared Wyatt for what she saw when the moon finally slipped between her and our nearest star.

“We were so lucky,” she says breathlessly, sifting through her photos from the day. “It couldn’t have gone better” — and was worth every last second of prep and worry.

“Steve and I had it all choreographed,” Wyatt says. “We had put together — it must have been 100 — things we had to do. And each one had a time stamp. As Steve would holler out what was next, I would do it. I had just taken the last solar filter off our telescopes and I turned up to look at totality. The first thing I saw was the red chromosphere. It was just beautiful. And the corona popped out. And I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed.”

She pauses. “And then we just stood, and our breath was just taken away.”

The Wyatts are already thinking about the next eclipse, in 2024. “We have lots of friends in Texas,” Kay muses.

South Carolina: Emotional tears, then happiness

CLEMSON, S.C. — Jim Melvin is as happy as anyone in America right now.

Melvin is the public affairs director at Clemson University who worked intensively planning for the total solar eclipse which, weather permitting, would be clear from the South Carolina public university.

He worked for a year — and on nights and weekends for the last six months — to plan a program for as many as 50,000 students and guests who flocked to the campus for the eclipse. It was also the first day of school, and Clemson had its convocation a few hours before the total eclipse, to make planning double trouble.

Melvin knew that the ultimate success of his efforts depended on fickle weather.  If clouds covered the eclipsed sun at 2:37 p.m., and stayed there for two minutes and 37 seconds, then the people assembled on the Clemson campus, sweltering in temperatures that felt like 104 degrees, would miss the main show.

They didn’t. The weather cooperated and right on time, the moon moved in front of the sun, the sky darkened, bugs thought it was night and began to buzz, and the crowd gathered at the heart of the Clemson campus began to hoot and holler. Melvin, who was watching with his wife and youngest daughter, cried.

“I don’t know if it was because of the eclipse or because everything just worked or a combination of the two,” he said. “My wife cried because she got her husband back. All the work paid off.”

The work included checking the long-term weather forecast “100,000 times or so,” he said, and trying not to get too worried at the negative forecasts. Up until the last minute, it was unclear whether the total eclipse could be seen.

Howard Spero,  a professor in the department of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California Davis, said he loved what he saw at Clemson, his ninth total eclipse. The planet Mercury could be seen “just off the left side” and so could “helmet streamers,” bright streams of light emanating from the sun named after spiked helmets of the late 1800s in Europe. Also visible at the end were what is known as Bailey’s Beads, essentially beads of light that have escaped from the moon’s surface just before totality.

“I’ve seen them all, from magnificent eclipses like this one, to ones where you only see totality for a second,” he said. “This one ranked up there with the best.”

Carbondale: Hugs, hushed talk, silence

CARBONDALE, Ill. — As the applause and cheers for totality died out and the sun returned, a reverent quiet fell upon the crowd.

If before totality, the SIU campus had been a carnival, the aftermath was like an especially moving church service.

People hugged, or traded reactions in hushed, awestruck tones. More than one person’s voice choked trying to describe what they’d just seen. Most preferred not to talk at all.

They put their glasses back on and gazed at the slim yellow crescent in the sky, still thinking about the brilliant, sparkling, effervescent version of the sun revealed by the moon.

2017 Solar eclipse live updates: Weather, photos, traffic and more

The solar eclipse that will sweep across the United States Monday begins at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, noon Eastern, when the moon takes a bite out of the sun for viewers in Oregon. The eclipse will reach totality for coastal Oregon at 10:19 local time. Over the course of 90 minutes, the moon’s full shadow will zip across a 70-mile-wide, 3,000-mile-long path cutting through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina. Finally at 2:49 p.m. Eastern time, it will disappear off the coast of Charleston, S.C.

The partial eclipse will be visible throughout the continental United States.

We’ll be bringing you live updates from across the United States, with photos, video, drone footage, social media highlights, and reports from two dozen staff and freelance writers.