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Rare Solar Eclipse Happening Coast to Coast; Total Eclipse in Missouri; Total Eclipse in Tennessee; Total Eclipse in Kentucky. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired August 21, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thanks very much.
I'm Anderson Cooper. This is CNN's continuing coverage of the history event, the day the sun disappeared. We've already just seen some incredible moments over the last hour or so.
Just moments from now, parts of Nebraska and Missouri will see the moon shadow fall on the earth as it passes between us and the sun. The nation is witnessing -- this is the first total solar eclipse from coast to coast in 99 years. It's history in the making.
A short time later, those on the East Coast will experience all the excitement for themselves. Depending on your vantage point, you'll see the moon completely blocked the sun's entire surface in what's known as totality. Obviously, do not forget to put on your special eclipse glasses.
Let's begin with our CNN's Chad Myers.
Chad, we've already seen just some incredible moments as a number of places have reached totality.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Especially Salem, Oregon, about an hour ago, when our Miguel Marquez was there. And people were cheering and, you know, you wanted to kind of take the hair on the back of my neck and knock it down because it was standing on its end just the way -- just how dark it got and you could see the stars and seen the moon.
Well, here's where it is right now. And this is what we're talking about for 2:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. Central Time. We're talking about Grand Island, Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, down toward Beatrice and all the way even into Nebraska City. That's where totality is right now. And moving closer and closer to St. Louis and eventually over toward Nashville.
But this is taking a long time -- or at least it seems like it takes a long time until you get to totality and then two and a half minutes later it's over. But the totality is what it's worth waiting for. The sun is going to be getting better, coming out stronger as soon as we leave St. Joe, Missouri, get toward Columbia, Missouri, and parts farther to the east.
By the time we get to I would say Knoxville or Nashville, completely sunny skies. And so we're going to continue this for another hour and a half before it finally moves completely off shore.
The shadow, Anderson, is right now moving at 1,700 miles per hour. The shadow is 70 miles around, but it is hauling the mail across the United States right now.
COOPER: That's just incredible.
MYERS: It is.
COOPER: Millions of people obviously able to -- to witness this firsthand. We are going to be showing it to you all over the next hour and a half. We have reporters stationed throughout the country with cameras in a lot of different places.
CNN's Stephanie Elam is in St. Joseph, Missouri.
Some bad weather there, but what's happening where you are, Stephanie.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the most amazing thing happened. Like there is the tinniest and most (INAUDIBLE) small hole in the cloud. It opened up just in time for us to see the eclipse. And totality is hitting right now. The light is changing. People are cheering they're so excited because the clouds just -- the rain stopped and the clouds opened up. Right now if you were to look up and put your glasses on, you can actually see the eclipse. I mean it's amazing, Anderson, because it is -- I was standing in the rain. The top half of my shirt is complete wet. It stopped just in time for us to see total eclipse just about -- we have a couple more minutes to go, but it was enough here that the people who stuck out through the rain started to cheer, started to clap, applauding the clouds to get out of the way just that little window.
Outside of that, you can see the light has changed here. And that alone is beautiful. You start to see the dynamic change, the kids are out here. This gentleman here was clapping, too, for the solar eclipse to happen. Can he give -- give me a word to tell me how this feels right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awesome.
I saw you clapping. I saw you guys clapping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ELAM: What are you thinking? What are you feeling?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is great.
ELAM: This was great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's great. Awesome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A once in a lifetime opportunity.
ELAM: Worth it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Totally worth it.
ELAM: So, Anderson, as you can see, people are all still gazing up just to get a look -- just a peek of an idea of what this total eclipse will look like here from Missouri. People sticking it out. We saw people leaving here just 15 minutes ago because the rain was coming down so hard. But you can see right now, right now, if I look up through the clouds, I can see the eclipse. It is amazing that this is happening right now and the clouds are completely covering the sky except for that one hole. It is -- it's really quite phenomenal. I can't even tell you how excited people are right now right here.
COOPER: It's also so exciting, Stephanie, because I mean I've been watching over the last half hour with the bad weather. Some folks were even leaving. So clearly those who have stayed have been rewarded for their persistence.
ELAM: Oh, completely.
I've been talking to this whole group that has been planning this trip for 18 months to come stand in this field from Australia and they are so excited. They're like, it's worth it. Everything is worth it. And they told me, don't just look up, also look around you because you'll see the lighting change. And that is completely what it is like here.
And it's really, really just the most amazing thing to see. It's 1:04, so we have it's like two more minutes until we actually get to the total eclipse.
But I can tell you, for the people who decided to stick it out here -- oh, it's really getting dark right now if you can see -- I don't know if you can see as well as I can.
[14:05:04] COOPER: Yes, we can actually see -- yes, we can see it getting darker on you. Is it getting colder as well because Miguel Marquez was saying where he was in Oregon that the temperature was dropped about five or 10 degrees.
ELAM: Yes, you know, my body temperature is off because I'm wet because I've been standing in the rain, but I actually do think it is getting a little bit cooler.
But I -- what is most astonishing to me is the excitement that you can palpably feel in this field because of this, because the darkness just happened so fast and because we were able to get that small glimpse into the clouds. In Some ways, I don't know, it almost feels like it's more exciting than what Miguel may have had because they were able to see it so clearly. We thought we weren't going to see it at all. And then to be able to look up and just to see that little sliver of the moon coming in before it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, there it comes.
ELAM: Oh, and here it comes on that side. What --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, that's the shadow.
ELAM: That's the shadow coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ELAM: So, see, people here are so happy to talk -- OK, so tell me --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is it.
ELAM: This is how dark -- how -- is this your first one or no?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, first one.
ELAM: First one. Worth it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ELAM: So you see how dark it is, Anderson? You can actually see how dark it's getting. It show -- can you see that?
COOPER: It's amazing. Yes, it's amazing.
ELAM: Can you hear the cheering?
ELAM: It's amazing. This is the most phenomenal thing I've ever seen. It is amazing. And the actual cheering of all the people in this crowd, they were prepared for some 15,000 people. The private airport here even had some private jets that were going to come in and land to see it if the weather looked good. We saw about 20 minutes ago one plane take off. We also know that a lot of people were here. They started to leave early. And they may have missed out because this is spectacular. And that one little hole that we were able to see of the eclipse was just amazing. It's like we're standing out here at nighttime. This is fascinating.
COOPER: Yes, we can barely see you, except we can see car lights behind you.
ELAM: It is absolutely fascinating. Yes, and like -- here, I'm going to turn this way a little bit so you can maybe see a little bit more of the lighting change here in the distance where there's some rain. You can kind of see the difference. And people are -- people are asking everybody to turn their lights off so that they can see it. And there's fireworks going off in the distance that way too.
People are cheering. This is fantastic. I'm just going to let you listen to the cheering for a little bit.
It's a huge payoff. A huge payoff after all the rain and the clouds. We didn't think we were going to get to see it at all, but this is spectacular. It's beautiful.
COOPOER: Stephanie, about how many people are there, do you think?
ELAM: Oh -- oh, my gosh, right now you can actually see -- oh, my gosh -- it's really exciting. Right now through the clouds you can actually see the eclipse. I know I sound like a little kid, but there's very few things when you're my age that excite you this much, and this is pretty darn exciting, Anderson.
COOPER: I mean to be there --
ELAM: It's spectacular. (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: It must -- to be there must be extraordinary.
Even to watch it on TV, when it was happening in Oregon, I jumped up from my seat and -- to get a closer look on the screen.
ELAM: Yes. I mean it's -- there's few things, right, when you're this age -- oh, can I show this? Greg, come here. My photojournalist Greg. Come take a look at this. He got a shot -- I don't know if you can see this. This gentlemen here. Where are you from, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Topeka, my brother -- my sister and brother-in-law are from Austin, Texas.
ELAM: OK, so from Topeka. So you made a shorter drive than some of the people that are here. Is this your first eclipse?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was actually alive in '79. I lived in Oregon. So I --
ELAM: Saw it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was a little bit younger.
ELAM: A little younger. What are you feeling right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is unbelievable because I really don't remember the '79 one. I probably are going to head for '24 down to Texas and see the one down there.
ELAM: And, see, this is what I've been hearing from other people too, Anderson. Once -- oh, it's starting to light up -- lighten up again in the sky. Once you experience one solar eclipse, you kind of get addicted and you start traveling around. Like the gentleman, Sandy, that I was talking to from Australia. This is his like fourth or fifth I think he said it was. And so he has been traveling around following it.
And it's now starting to get really bright again here coming from one side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, come on!
ELAM: People cheering for the -- cheering for mother nature here, the celestial beings. But it -- as quickly as it got dark, it is now starting to get light here again. Absolutely phenomenal, Anderson. COOPER: Stephanie, just incredible to watch. And it seems to be passing, because the light is obviously getting a lot -- it's getting brighter now.
ELAM: It's starting to get brighter. You can start to see, if you look out behind me, it's like otherworldly. I can still see fireworks going off in the distance. So in Missouri they're having a great time with this, with the darkness, and taking advantage of it.
But, yes, it's -- and it's happening quickly. I can see the light coming back quickly now.
Oh, there it is. You can see it again. You can now see the light coming out on the other side of the moon. And just barely through this tiny little hole in the clouds. Just giving these people here just enough to enjoy this.
There it is. And so it -- for the -- the payoff for the people who planned so hard and so long to be here. I know at this airport they started planning this four years ago or so to make this possible. And for the people who have been planning for it, bought their tickets to fly here, I talk to one group of women that flew here from New Jersey, to have this happen and for it to still have that payoff is a huge deal. It's something that, you know, most Americans can revel in. And here in the path of totality, I think we had the worst weather, but we still had a really great time.
[14:10:20] COOPER: Stephanie, thank you so much.
I want to bring in David DeVorkin from the Smithsonian, and also Adriana Ocampo from the Science Mission Directorate, who are joining us. We're still watching now, Blackwell, Missouri, is where we're next going to be showing you the totality. Also Chris Hadfield is an astronaut and is joining us as well.
Chris, just for -- have you ever seen in person a total eclipse like this?
CHRIS HADFIELD, ASTRONAUT: I wish I had the chance to see a total one. I've seen partial eclipses. And it was really interesting for me as a young person to see that actually happen. I held up the little piece of tin foil and watched the sun be covered partially by the shadow of the moon, like so many people are across North America right now. And it really made me think. You know, it made me picture it all as nothing theoretical, but something real. The sun and the moon and the earth and my place in that. And I think for a lot of people it was great to hear all that excitement, because it takes patience to see an eclipse. And it was great to hear that excitement because I remember it myself for the first time picturing what's actually happening around me in the solar system.
COOPER: David DeVorkin, you're a senior curator with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
You know, a lot of people when they come to your museum, which is just an amazing museum, have that same sense of actually touching, you know, something that's been up in space or being close to something that's been up in space. There is this very personal nature to what is happening across the country now. Today, people out in fields together, joining together and actually kind of witnessing science. It doesn't happen very often in people's lives.
DAVID DEVORKIN, SENIOR CURATOR, SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM: That's absolutely right. You're experiencing a piece of the true cross here. It is an experience that is indelible, it's personal. You'll carry away that experience for the rest of your life. And it was just amazing hearing that crowd.
COOPER: It's got to make you -- as someone who obviously, you know, has dedicated your life to science to see so many people interested in this moment, it's got to feel good.
DEVORKIN: Absolutely. When we started planning for this, oh, at least a year ago, it was pretty far in my mind. I had plenty of other projects to worry about. But the educators kept at it. The -- our astronomy educators are just absolutely gifted and they knew exactly how the building of the excitement was going to end up in what is just phenomenal at the museum. I've never seen so many people. I've never seen them so excited.
COOPER: Adriana Ocampo, now on the left-hand side of your screen we're seeing Blackwell, Missouri, which has not yet reached totality. Also then later on, Nashville, which will be about 10 minutes or so after Blackwell. Blackwell, we should be getting totality in about four -- five minutes, I believe, four or five minutes.
Can you just explain, Adriana, what's happens just in Blackwell. We're only now seeing just a sliver of the sun. Can you just, for those who are just joining us, explain how we are able to witness this. Explain how it is that the moon is able to block out the sun in this way?
ADRIANA OCAMPO, PROGRAM EXECUTIVE, SCIENCE MISSION DIRECTORATE: Well, it's an extraordinary moment, really. I've been fortunate to have been able to experience totality several times. And it's been extraordinary. I mean the moment in which we're viewing right now, in which the moon crosses, it's just at the right distance from the earth to be able to cross in front of the sun and (INAUDIBLE), you know, completely just, you know, the sphere of the sun, we cannot see is anymore. And right now we are in those precious moments just before the air -- the moon is completely occulting the sphere of the sun.
And the important thing is when that happens, then we can get to study the deepest part of light -- what we call the corona of the sun, that is not easily visible. So it's very significant for scientific investigations.
COOPER: You know, Chris Hadfield, what can science learn from seeing the corona like this? Which is, again, it's -- I mean the corona always exists, but to actual see it is rare.
HADFIELD: You know, in 1859, there was a huge explosion on the sun. We call it the Carrington event. And it was in that corona -- we call it a coronal mass ejection, and a huge blob of energy came from the sun and enveloped the earth. But even at the time it caused havoc. It -- some of the telephone lines across the United States that caught fire. There was so much electricity going through our magnetic field.
[14:15:04] So to try and understand that corona, to try and be able to predict events like that, to understand the physics of the sun itself, this isn't just a beautiful human event and an exciting thing to see personally, but it's really important scientifically. And so everybody's taking, like never before, advantage of this to really try and glean all the information we can from this rare view.
COOPER: You know, David, it's so remarkable when you think -- I mean the sun is 93 million miles away. The moon is 238,855 miles away. But because of the -- they're the same angular size in this moment, one blocks the other out.
DEVORKIN: That's right. And it is really quite a wonderful little apparition which won't always be the case. If you come back in a few million years, the moon is going to be a lot farther away from the earth and so we won't get any more of these solar eclipses. We're experiencing it now in our age of -- it's really, really quite a wonderful thing.
But I want to add to what Chris was saying. The 1859 Carrington event, of course, telegraph lines melted down, there was a great disruption, an amazing aurora continued for a long time. In the more recent past, these coronal mass ejections have caused power outages, and other kinds of disruptions. And the most important thing we have to understand is that our society today is far, far more susceptible to these coronal events than it was in 1859. I mean we may have had telegraphs, but think of what we have now that's susceptible to this kind of interruption like our satellites.
COOPER: And, David, we're looking at Blackwell, Missouri, where there is totality. Just explain for viewers exactly what they're seeing. Obviously the moon -- the moon has now moved in front of the sun from our vantage point, but the corona that you're speaking of, that is -- that is what is coming off the sun all around.
DEVORKIN: Right, you're looking at the structure of the inner corona. That is the -- you might consider it the outer atmosphere of the sun.
You know when you look at the sun, the son's a great globe of glowing gas It's not a solid surface. And that technically is an atmosphere. But that atmosphere continues out millions of miles into space. And we can only see it in this kind of an eclipse when the great brilliance of the visible -- or I should say visible surface of the sun is blocked out.
And you know why that occurs. I mean the moon itself doesn't give off any light at all. You know, people ask, well, gee, you know, when the full moon looks real bright. Well, yes, the full moon is something you see because the sun is shining on it. But when the moon is between the earth and the sun, that shiny face is facing away from us and we have the night side that we are seeing blocking out the light of the sun.
COOPER: So, David, just from a science standpoint, what are scientists right now looking at? I mean as we're watching this image from Blackwell in totality at 1:18 p.m. Central Time, what would scientists be looking at?
DEVORKIN: The big question is, what causes the -- how does energy transfer from the sun itself, from the photosphere and from inside the photosphere, out into that coronospheric (ph) area and how is it transferred and what are the physical processes that take place in there. And we want to be able to see as precisely as possible what triggers these flairs, these explosions. And if we can get an idea of what triggers them, then we can get a -- more of a predictive mechanism for determining the existence of what Chris was calling coronal mass ejections.
COOPER: So, David, for all we know about the sun, we don't know -- there's still a lot we don't know about what causes these flares?
DEVORKIN: Absolutely. We can now predict some types of flare events, oh, 14 hours in advance, which isn't bad.
Oh, boy, here comes that -- here it comes.
COOPER: Look at that image right there.
DEVORKIN: Oh, I love that. That's absolutely --
COOPER: What is that now? Explain that.
DEVORKIN: Well, we call it Bailey's Beads. Astronomers call it Bailey's Beads because there was a guy named Bailey who first was -- described them. But that is -- I love it as the diamond ring effect. And you would see that visually just for a few moments in the sky, but you have to run, immediately put your glasses back on because you're looking at the full atmospheric effect of the -- of the sun and it is just so -- so overwhelmingly bright.
COOPER: Yes, at the totality is really the only time you can take your glasses off and look for that, you know, two minutes or so without endangering yourself.
DEVORKIN: Exactly. Exactly right. And the best way to take on the glasses or take them off is not look -- don't look up at the sun and then put the glasses on. Put the glasses on first and then look up at the sun.
[14:20:08] COOPER: Right. And for those who don't realize, the glasses are completely blacked out, essentially. If you were wearing glasses just, you know, on the street, you would not be able to see anything.
DEVORKIN: No, that's quite right. And if you can see something, then I wouldn't use them on the sun.
COOPER: Then they're not -- they're not going to be effective.
DEVORKIN: That's right.
COOPER: So the totality, David, only lasts for about two and -- two minutes -- two and a half minutes, correct?
DEVORKIN: That's right, in this particular eclipse. If the moon were closer to us at the point of totality, then we would have a longer eclipse. Some of the eclipses I've been to have been as long as four minutes.
DEVORKIN: That was a lifetime, let me tell you.
COOPER: I can imagine, yes.
DEVORKIN: Oh, yes.
COOPER: I also want to bring in Chad Myers.
We've now had totality, Chad. We just saw it at Blackwell, Missouri. Now the shadow is moving somewhat off the sun. Next, Nashville, Tennessee, we're going to have in about six minutes from now.
But just -- I mean, Chad, just to witness this is so exciting even if -- for people who may not be interested in science or know much about -- about astronomy. It's an extraordinary thing.
MYERS: Just to get the volume, to get the ambiance of people screaming and cheering and chanting, even with Stephanie where they only had maybe 10 seconds worth of actual eclipsing they could see. If you're looking at the eclipse picture on your screen, and it looks in the shape of a c,"" that means it's still coming. If it looks the opposite way, that means it's already over.
But I want to get back to what the good doctor was talking about, about these eclipse glasses. This is a flashlight that I brought from home. Just a regular LED flashlight. It's pretty bright. Now I'm going to take one lens from a very expensive pair of glasses that I have broken and put it here. And it doesn't take very much of that light out, relatively, about 60 or 70 percent.
Now I'm going to take this light and put it on the lens itself of the solar glasses. And, Anderson, I can get right there to that TV screen. You cannot see that LED shining through that at all. It's absolutely dark. When you look through these, you see nothing except a little bit of the sun.
COOPER: Chad, I don't know if you can see the image out of Nashville. And it's a good reminder of what you said, that if it's a "c," it's still to come. If it's a reverse "c," it means the totality has already passed. Wo we're also now on the left-hand side of the screen got an image from Kentucky where, obviously, it has also yet to have reach totality. And it looks like we have some cloud cover now in Nashville.
MYERS: We do. And that was a very, very big party. Just about maybe a week and a half ago I tried to book a hotel room for one of our other meteorologists here in the building in Atlanta. The closest hotel room that was available ten days ago was 40 miles from Nashville. The entire city was sold out. So this is an event -- and also a financial event for some of these towns that never see this many people. Obviously Nashville sees a lot of tourism, but some of these towns like St. Joseph or Carbondale, Illinois, don't see this many people in a given year. And they've had this many hotel rooms sold out in -- and other things sold out for weeks or sometimes months and years in advance.
COOPER: You can see the crowd in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where it looks like they're just about to reach totality as well.
Let's -- do we have sound on that. Let's see if we can hear in. Let's ---
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, it's just really close to nighttime. It's incredible. It's like very dim.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely it feels like dawn or dusk here in Hopkinsville right now as it's getting closer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you can see on our feed just that tiny, tiny little sliver left to go. And it's really starting to get dark now. Wow, it's like dusk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. Goodness gracious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you can see the pink color around the horizon. Oh, it's like a sunset. It's beautiful. It's going. It's going. Just that tiny, tiny last sliver. Oh, my goodness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow! And we are in total solar eclipse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is absolutely breathtaking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you can see the corona, that beautiful white, wispy crown coming out from the sun in all directions. And we can see airplanes. And I think I see Jupiter in the sky over there. I think I can see Jupiter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I see other planets, too, and stars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can only imagine in ancient times what this must have been like out of nowhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am covered in head-to-toe in goosebumps. A complete chill has come over my body.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, I am, too. I just can't believe we finally got a chance to see it. I mean it's one thing to read about it, but it's another thing when you get to see it yourself with your own eyes. [14:25:09] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, we're going to take a break here
just a second. We're going to step back and fully enjoy this and hope you enjoy our feed on the telescope.
COOPER: I want to bring in our Miles O'Brien.
Miles, as we watch this extraordinary moment of totality from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, what goes through your mind?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: You know, I -- we just had the experience of totality here in Irwin, Idaho, Anderson.
I've seen an annular eclipse before back in 1994 and covered that for CNN and enjoyed that. But this -- there was something about this and I'm not usually at a loss for words. I'm having a hard time coming up with words to describe what I experienced. You know, obviously, we've all seen these pictures and videos over the years of what an eclipse looks like, what the corona looks like. It was the combination of that sight with, you know, through protection, of course. I was using number fourteen welder's glass. By all means, people, use protection to look at it.
But then when I took it away during the moment of totality, it was the visual experience coupled with all the others senses coming at your that just weren't right. Here it was the middle of the day, a little after noon, the sun high in the sky, hot as it can be. The temperature dropped about 20 degrees. And there was this -- before it happened almost this kind of bluish light, which was surreal. I can't really explain -- I've never seen light quite like that. And then it got instantly very dark. And everything about your kind of must be like a deep limbic brain thing is telling you something very wrong is happening. Almost a fight or flight response. In a sense in a primal way you're saying to yourself, this is just not right. And yet the minute it was over, I just -- all I wanted to do was see another one.
COOPOER: And, Miles, just -- this moment right now from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where the sun is just -- we're starting to see the shadow move to the left and the sun -- the flares are just coming out. It's such an extraordinary moment. The cameras always have to readjust because obviously the flares grow in intensity very quickly.
O'BRIEN: Yes, it -- you know, the corona is -- there's a lot of scientific interest in the corona because it's actually hotter than the surface of the sun itself. No one knows why that is. The corona is what generates solar storms, which can wreak havoc on our power grid and on our satellite system. But what it was really for me, and what it is for those people just now, the sense that they're cheering it, is it's just beautiful. It's just gorgeous. You're seeing the sun like you've never seen it before. That corona is there every day of the week, but you never see that. And it extends many diameters farther than the sun itself. And that's what amazed me.
COOPER: Yes, it's incredible.
David DeVorkin, as we continue to look at this image from Hopkinsville, and just now starting to see -- see some more of the sun, to realize that the corona is there all the time, but we just -- we're unable to see it.
DEVORKIN: That's right. But what's really exciting is just over this short period of time, watching it from the West Coast here, and that's something, by the way, I've never seen in my life is watching it in progress over this amount of time, why the chromospheric (ph) activity, the prominence that we saw out on the West Coast, we don't see now on the East Coast. And that means that the sun changes very, very rapidly. And we want to be able to get a close-up shot of those changes in -- during the eclipse time. And that's what is so exciting to see is that change over short periods of time.
COOPER: And you really do -- I mean it's been often commented on today, David, but you think about, you know, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, before people really knew exactly what -- what was happening in parts of the world where people didn't know what was happening, to just think back what that must have been like for people to suddenly see the sun blotted out.
DEVORKIN: Absolutely. I mean there's plenty of legends about how it -- there was a war between the Liddans (ph) and the Meads (ph), and, of course, a solar eclipse just happened to take place and they thought, my God, there's a message, we better stop fighting because somebody's not happy.
But more -- more to the point, the first coronal records were drawn, oh, in the 10th century, although I'm sure that they were seen before then. But after that everybody was wondering, well, what is this corona? Does the moon have an atmosphere? And by the 19th century, it was pretty clear that it really wasn't the moon's atmosphere, it was the sun's atmosphere. And so it became an extremely important thing to study.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to take you to Washington, D.C. President Trump is going to be watching the eclipse from the White House balcony. We'll bring you that and more moments of totality from across the country. We'll be right back.