North America was treated to a rare solar eclipse on August 21, with images to released by at least three NASA aircraft before, during, and after the event. More than 50 high-altitude balloons and astronauts from the International Space Station, and other spacecraft provided photos from different vantage points for the event. NASA itself hosted a live programming from 12 PM EDT on the day of the eclipse.

What is a solar eclipse?

In a course of nearly 100 minutes, 14 states in the U.S. experienced two minutes of total darkness as the eclipse took place.

For those who do not know, a solar eclipse puts the sun, moon, and earth in perfect alignment. At this time, the moon will fully be covering the sun. Other than that, the rest of North America was able to get a partial view of the event.

The eclipse can provide an opportunity for scientists to study the interaction between the sun, Earth, and the moon, at the time that its path takes its course from coast to coast. Weather forecasters said that the states with the most favorable conditions were Oregon and Tennessee, while Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina would have a harder time viewing the eclipse because of the possibility of clouds and storms.

However, no matter where one is in the U.S., it is important to remember that safety precautions are necessary for viewing such momentous event, lest it can damage the eyes.

What is there to expect?

The total solar eclipse, which is aptly named the Great American Eclipse, spanned the whole country. In fact, it is considered a rare phenomenon that many were looking forward to. The last time a total solar eclipse traveled across the entire country was back in 1918. It is so rare that eclipse chasers say seeing one can make a person feel he is changed forever.

The moon started covering the sun over the Pacific Ocean on Monday morning to create a "totality zone." This zone is the line where the moon will completely block the sun, plunging the affected areas from coast to coast in total darkness, which many could mistake as a “premature” evening.

The eclipse started on the coast of Oregon near noon.

In the next 90 minutes or so, thirteen more states experienced the celestial event including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Despite the estimated two minutes of total darkness, the shape of the Earth resulted in irregular timings for the eclipse across the U.S. One place had the eclipse lasting less than one minute but it could be as long as two minutes and 41 seconds in others. It stayed dark the longest in an Illinois town called Makanda, a small rural area with a population of 600 citizens.