Anticipation and Anxiety Build Ahead of the Total Solar Eclipse

Millions of people will tilt their heads skyward on Monday, marveling at a total solar eclipse. The moon will cross the sun and block its light for a few fleeting moments, a communal celestial experience that will not again be so accessible to people in the United States, Canada or Mexico for decades.

The total solar eclipse’s path — the expanse where the moon fully obscures the sun — stretches from Mexico’s Pacific Coast to the fringes of Atlantic Canada, passing through dozens of major cities where authorities are preparing for an influx of visitors eager to experience what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

In New York, signs along the Thruway urged travelers to “Arrive Early, Stay Late” to avoid the inevitable jams that will clog routes to and from the eclipse’s path.

Closer to Niagara Falls, which is in the path of totality, the second half of the message switched to a more realistic, “Expect Delays.”

It will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States since 2017, and there will not be another that is visible in the lower 48 states until 2044. On Monday, much of the country is expected to take in the view. In 2017, a majority of American adults — 154 million, according to an estimate by Jon D. Miller, a University of Michigan research scientist — watched the eclipse in person, an audience far beyond that of even the most-watched Super Bowl (123.4 million this year). And the path of totality for Monday’s eclipse crosses over more than twice the number of people as the 2017 event.

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