Millions upon millions of people either traveled or watched the eclipse, shattering many records and surprising NASA itself.
The Great American Solar eclipse cast a shadow from coast to coast across the United States on Aug. 21 for the first time in 99 years, making it perhaps the most observed and photographed solar eclipse ever. But there’s something you probably don’t know about this most recent solar eclipse: it shattered records all over the place.
An astonishing 40 million people watched the live online broadcast by NASA of the event, the most watched live broadcast in the agency’s history and eclipsing even the broadcasts of the 2012 Mars Curiosity rover landing and the New Horizons spacecraft’s flyby of Pluto just two years ago. An estimated 12 million people headed to the 70-mile wide “path of totality” stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, creating massive traffic jams for miles upon miles on the day of the big event.
And even states that were not in the path of totality got a great view of a partial eclipse. NASA said in a statement even they didn’t expect such a massive response to the total solar eclipse.
And the eye-popping numbers don’t stop there. An estimated 100 million people watched livestreams and videos of the eclipse on YouTube. Many, many students participated in science projects during the eclipse. And there’s an Eclipse MegaMovie Project that is right now assembling much of the footage of this incredible event from 1,000 photographers and astronomers nationwide to create a one of a kind remembrance of this remarkable day.