As millions of awestruck Americans cast their gaze skyward on Monday at the extraordinary sight of a total solar eclipse, one Connecticut man had his eyes set firmly on a different prize.
Joseph Fleming, 43, went down on one knee in the darkness near the harbor in Charleston, South Carolina, and asked Nicole Durham to marry him.
“The sun, the moon and my love, all in a straight line,” Fleming said, laughing, after Durham, 40, said yes.
The first total eclipse in a century to sweep across the United States from coast to coast inspired Americans to make marriage proposals, hold family reunions and take time from work to witness with wonder one of the cosmos’ rarest phenomena.
After weeks of anticipation, onlookers from Oregon to South Carolina whooped and cheered as the moon blotted out the sun, transforming a narrow band of the United States from day to night for two minutes at a time.
Even President Donald Trump stepped out of the White House to see the eclipse, though he was spotted briefly looking up without protective glasses, which can cause eye damage, as an aide yelled “Don’t look!”
“It’s more powerful than I expected,” Robert Sarazin Blake, 40, a singer from Bellingham, Washington, said after the eclipse passed over Roshambo ArtFarm in Sheridan, Oregon. “All of a sudden you’re completely in another world. It’s like you’re walking on air or tunneling underground like a badger.”
No area in the continental United States had seen a total solar eclipse since 1979, while the last coast-to-coast total eclipse took place in 1918.
The event was expected to draw one of the largest audiences in human history, including those watching on television and online.