ATLANTA — Metro Atlanta office workers poured out of their cubicles and socialized atop parking decks while motorists clogged mountain roads in north Georgia, all in a bid to witness the first full solar eclipse to traverse the nation from coast to coast in nearly a century.
Andrew Monsalve and his girlfriend Angie Lora shared a pair of eclipse glasses in a downtown Atlanta park, taking turns adjusting the fit just moments before the eclipse.
“I’ve seen a partial eclipse before. I was little though so I couldn’t really remember it,” Monsalve said.
“That’s why I’m out here today,” he added. “It’s going to be exciting. I want to see how dark it’s going to get.”
Even Congressman John Lewis was among those gathered at the park. He put on his eclipse glasses, posed for a few photos with admirers and gazed to the sky, moved by the fleeting moment that was pending.
“To understand what is happening. It’s meaningful. I know hundreds and thousands and millions of students and young people, all over America, are taking note of what is happening today,” Lewis said.
“We need to know more about the planet. This little spaceship that we live on called Earth. We can learn from the moon. We can learn from the sun,” Lewis said.
Rabun County in the northeast Georgia mountains offered one of Georgia’s best spots to view Monday’s phenomenon as it was in the path of the total eclipse.
Darkness descended on communities such as Helen, Blairsville and Hiawassee around 2:30 p.m. Monday.
However, plenty of residents saw the vast majority of the sun blotted out by the moon.
Residents in the Atlanta and Macon areas were in parts of the state where at least 90 percent of the sun would be eclipsed, said Lauren Merritt, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
In the Gainesville area, traffic was bumper-to-bumper Monday morning as drivers headed toward the mountains, The Times reported .
The path of totality passed through 14 states, entering near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 1:16 p.m. EDT, moving over Casper, Wyoming; Carbondale, Illinois; and Nashville, Tennessee, and then exiting near Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:47 p.m. EDT.
Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois saw the longest stretch of darkness: 2 minutes and 44 seconds.
The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.
Associated Press Writer Jonathan Landrum contributed to this report.