Return to Transcripts main page


Total Solar Eclipse Across the U.S.; Trump & Family Watch Eclipse from White House Balcony. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 21, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:32:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to our special coverage of the eclipse of the century. The last time of an eclipse like this, from coast to coast, 99 years ago. An extraordinary moment in our history to witness this as millions of people are across the country.

Coming up, we'll show you totality in north Georgia, also South Carolina.

President Trump will be on the balcony of the White House, looking at the eclipse from Washington, D.C.

I want to bring in Chad Myers.

Chad, what is the president expected to see from Washington? How's the weather there?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Likely about 80 percent. Weather is going to be good. Likely about 80 percent, which doesn't give you that darkness, doesn't give you the cheering that you hear from the people that are actually in totality.

I'm getting so many Twitter questions. I want to this, Anderson. "Why is this eclipse going the wrong way? The sun is moving from east to west, the moon is moving from east to west. How in the world can this eclipse be going in a wrong direction?"

Let me take you back to a couple of hours ago. The sun rising in the east, the moon right here, and the shadow over Oregon. About a half hour ago, the moon here, the sun here, that shadow right over parts of Nebraska. As we move you ahead to about an hour from now, this shadow will be all the way over Charleston, South Carolina. So in effect, the shadow is going the wrong direction. Although, if you ask an astronomer, it's going in the right direction. That's how they go.

Here's where we are right now. At 2:00 in the afternoon, we were somewhere over Grand Island, Nebraska, now moving over Nashville. Cloud cover affecting Nashville's view right now. Then over Knoxville and then over Charleston and, eventually, out to sea. There's a cruise ship in the ocean, waiting for the eclipse as well. Just sitting there in the middle of the ocean waiting for the sun to get blocked by the moon. ANDERSON: Chad, I keep thinking back when the first place we saw

this, in Oregon. Our Miguel Marquez was there. Just the gasps from the crowd. You know, people knew what to expect. They had been waiting for it a long time. Then to witness it in person. Literally, it took peoples' breath away.

MYERS: I think Miles O'Brien really hit the nail on the head. This is other worldly. This isn't supposed to happen. We wake up on a daily basis and we go to bed when the sun sets. All of a sudden, the sun set in the middle of the day. So, yes, it truly was a spectacular set of events that you wait for, for so long. You have to understand, some of these people have been planning this. There's a group of Japanese tourists, 250 of them, in Oregon, this morning, who had been planning it since 2011. They bought their plane tickets, their hotel. They had every lined up now for six years. And for it to actually happen and, without cloud cover, that's a major event.

ANDERSON: Miles O'Brien is also standing by.

Miles, we're looking at images from Blackwell, Missouri, where totality has already occurred. But even afterward, again, it's such a startling image that we see the shadow of the moon over the sun.

[14:35:08] MILES O'BRIEN, SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: It's interesting, you get to the point of totality, and then you basically get the mirror image, a repeat of what you've had in the runup. People want to walk away and go grill a burger or something, like they're doing here. But it's still very cool. I think we're almost at the tail end. We have a little sliver of the moon still touching the sun here in Idaho. People have kind of moved on. They saw the totality and the thrill is gone, as it were.

It's interesting because when we first saw it early in the day, there was a gasp in the crowd. Like, oh, my gosh, this really happening. What science tells us to be so, is so. Scientists can predict this to the second. And sure enough, it happened.

ANDERSON: In an age when sometimes we don't know what the weather is going to be later in the afternoon, for science to be able to predict this so accurately to the second or the minute is just extraordinary.

O'BRIEN: I think it's important for people to remember that. Scientists do work hard to get things right. That goes across the board, no matter what you're talking about. Whether it's climate science or predicting eclipses, scientific rigor is real and scientists do their best to get things right. If you have any down about the veracity of science, I think the moon and the sun proved that the veracity of science is very real.

ANDERSON: Yes. You're seeing on the right side of the screen Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. That's the view from there.

As Chad helpfully pointed out before, if it looks like a "C," the totality is yet to come. It's still coming. It's still coming into South Carolina.

We'll go to the Isle of Palms in about 10 minutes or so and show the totality there.

Also, I want to show Washington, D.C., where President Trump is on the balcony to see what he can see.

I want to go Kaylee Hartung, who is in South Carolina.

Kaylee, where exactly are you and what's the scene?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're on Isle of Palms, South Carolina, just off the coast of Charleston. It's a seven-mile-long beach that is a crowded as anybody has ever seen it.

Andrew Kasecki (ph) is here, National Geographic. He's will me on the cloudy day.

What can we expect to see in that moment of totality when the clouds are looking like they are?

ANDREW KASECKI (ph), NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Even with the clouds, we should be able to see some streamers and filaments coming out of the outer atmosphere of the sun when we reach totality. Those few precious moments, those two minutes, we'll see an amazing structure, even though a thin cloud deck. Also, the area, the environment around us will change. There will be a significant drop in temperature. There will be a darkness like evening twilight. And through the holes in the clouds where you see blue skies, you'll seen see some stars and planets.

HARTUNG: And you're holding on to those glasses tight. Even with this cloud coverage, how important are these?

KASECKI (ph): It's very important. It's very important during partial eclipse, as long as you can see some of the sun, you must use protective glasses. But once we reach totality, you can take them off. And while the sun is completely covered, you can safely see it with the naked eye for those two minutes.

HARTUNG: What about animal behavior through the eclipse?

KASECKI (ph): Definitely, there are a lot of anecdotal evidence of wildlife, animals behaving very strangely during those precious few moments of totality. We're talking about seeing birds going to roost, crickets starting to chirp. All kinds of things. There's even, in the ocean, they've seen whales and dolphins breeching, as if they're looking at the totality for those few minutes.

ANDERSON: We're about 10 minutes away from totality here at Isle of Palms, South Carolina, as everyone is looking skyward in anticipation of something special.

I'm starting to feel the temperature drop. We're starting to see the clouds get a little bit darker.

I'm going to grab my glasses and get out there to get a better look.

ANDERSON: All right. All right, Kaylee we'll come back to you shortly.

On the left side of your screen, there's President Trump at the White House, waiting to witness this historic event.

Our Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us.

How much cloud cover is there. And I see you have your glasses on. Will you be able to see a lot, do you think?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's actually getting pretty dark here, Anderson. Everyone is outside right now --

ANDERSON: I think that's because you're wearing glasses.

COLLINS: Watching this eclipse, waiting for it to happen. We're going to get our total coverage here any minute, at 2:42. We'll only get 81 percent coverage here in Washington. But the president and Melania Trump and some members of his cabinet, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are all heading out on the South Lawn of the White House to get a glimpse of this eclipse. We now Ivanka Trump posted a photo with her glasses earlier. And we know that NASA brought them over here to the White House for the White House staffers last week so they can watch the eclipse today.

The White House is dark today, Anderson, but it has nothing to do with the Trump administration.

[14:40:05] ANDERSON: And we can see on the right-hand side Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, where they are still a few minutes away from being able to witness the totality. The is the distinctive "C" shape, meaning it is still to come.

President Trump there waiving to folks out on the lawn in front of the White House.

Again, just a few minutes away from the president actually being able to witness the view from Washington, D.C.

We also have joining us is David DeVorkin, Miles O'Brien.

David DeVorkin, in terms of how long the totality last, we keep saying it's two minutes to two and a half minutes. Is it the same for everybody across the entire country?

DAVID DEVORKIN, SENIOR CURATOR, NATIONAL AIR & SPACE MUSEUM, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE: No. It will vary. In this case, it will vary from about two minutes to about just under two minutes, thirty seconds, approximately, 40 seconds. That variation isn't too much. It's a question of the angle of the shadow and the angle of the surface of the earth and how fast the shadow is traveling. It travels between 1400 miles an hour and down to about 1000 miles an hour, depending upon that oblique angel.

ANDERSON: Chad, for people who certainly are -- hope that this kind of ignites new interest, especially among young people, in science. To have so many people turning out for an event like this, it certainly does make it an exciting event. It makes it sort of a whole new generation of people perhaps interested in astronomy.

MYERS: Since we've lost the shuttle program and, for that matter, lost the moon, kids that I grew up in the '60s and the '70s were anxiously waiting for the next Saturn 5 to go off and the Apollo 15, 16, and how far do we go. We've lost that sense of adventure. This, I believe, brings back a sense of science. Just the truth of how it was down to the mile. They knew the exact path of this down to a mile. We're talking about the two minutes, two minutes and 45 second totality, but that's right along a single line only one mile wide. The farther you get away from that line, the less totality you get. And the president there, and Mrs. Melania, Mrs. Trump now seeing less and less, only 81 percent. So they're not even in that. And yet, the scientists knew exactly to the date, to the hour, to the minute years and years in advance. And we know when the next one is, 2024.

ANDERSON: Miles, we have this image from Columbia, South Carolina, certainly of the totality. Even though we have now seen it many times across the United States, it's still an extraordinary thing to witness. It really is one of those once-in-a-lifetime events.

O'BRIEN: What scientifically makes this special is that we can make an artificial eclipse with a telescope and a disc on the front lens blocking the sun. But we can't put a rock out there, a quarter of a million miles, blocking out the sun, and have a very, very sharp image of the inner and the outer corona itself. We only get a partial image if we try to fake an eclipse. This true eclipse, with all the instruments we have out there, will tell us more and more about coronal mass ejections, those things that the scientists were just talking about, how they could bring down our power grids at any moment in time. We are so dependent on power and electrons and electricity all across the globe, that this is truly a scientific moment that we don't get very often here in America. Obviously, in a hundred years or so.

ANDERSON: There's Barron Trump, Melania Trump, the president as well. Ivanka Trump was out there, as we heard moments ago, as well.

And there are you have in Columbia, South Carolina.

Look at that.

Chad Myers, that is incredible.

MYERS: It is. What we're seeing, the diamond ring, the bright sunshine. Before that, the outer part of the moon, the moon's shadow, the silver, outside of that is about a million degrees. Almost a million degrees warmer than the sun itself. And we don't know how that happens. We don't know how that sphere around the sun gets so much hotter than the roiling gases on the planet of the sun, on the surface of the sun, because it isn't really a surface because it's gas. But we learn more and more every time we see this. And now we actually had a plane, a couple of them, flying along, under the moon itself, for as long as it could to get a longer view of that. Obviously, at 50,000 or 60,000 feet uninhibited by any atmosphere debris.

ANDERSON: Miles, that moment when the sun starts, the flares at the side as it starts to break through, so extraordinary now.

[14:44:59] O'BRIEN: Yes. It's quite a sight to see. Understanding that coronal mass ejections and the corona and the solar storms is of great importance, as Chad points out. But this mystery of why it is hotter than the surface itself has its own scientific validity and pursuit. Scientists are just curious why that is. Understanding that might help protect us as well here on earth.

ANDERSON: And let's go back to Kaylee.

Kaylee, you're seeing this on the Isle of Palms. How is the view from there?

HARTUNG: Anderson, it's been cloudy all day long here. And just in these moments leading up to totality, the clouds are parting. It's been an incredible sensation. You can feel the temperature dropping. You can see, now, as I take my glasses off and actually look around, how gray the science is beginning to get here. It's incredible to see this many people having a shared experience, all gazing up at the sky, as the wind blows and the clouds part, to show us something special.


HARTUNG: Wow, we are nearing totality here.

ANDERSON: Let's listen in to the crowd and hear their reactions to totality.



ANDERSON: We want you to see the sights and hear the sounds as the people who are there are hearing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see anything?

HARTUNG: Yes. Take your glasses off.

ANDERSON: So Kaylee, people -- at now, at this point, with totality, you are able to take your glasses off?

HARTUNG: My glasses are off, Anderson. My glasses are off, Anderson. And to hear the sounds that this crowd is making as everybody experiences it. I think it took everyone a moment to realize it was safe to take off the glasses. But right now, as you see that corona in the sky.

I want to ask the guy standing next to me, what are you experiencing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time I've ever felt in my life as one person connected to the universe, you know what I mean? Everyone here looking at the same thing, all experiencing the same thing. It's amazing. First time I've ever seen this. Amazing. HARTUNG: For a day that was so cloudy, to see the clouds part.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: For 10 minutes. Literally, the last 10 minutes, it cleared up. Amazing. It was raining like two hours ago.

HARTUNG: This is when science takes your breath away.

But to see this entire beach. They're anticipating 30,000 people along this seven-mile stretch of beach. At 2:46 in the afternoon.

Oh, it's beginning to move. Time to put the glasses back on.


HARTUNG: You can hear the applause.

ANDERSON: Let's listen to the crowd, Kaylee.


ANDERSON: Kaylee, as dark as it became, you said the temperature dropped as well?

HARTUNG: There temperature did drop, Anderson. You could feel a breeze pick up. In South Carolina, it's nothing wild to feel the humidity here. But the coolness of the wind was something different than we had experienced the entire day here, just in those moments when the sun's light was covered. It is absolutely wild to now see the blue return to the sky as the eclipse continues to run its path.

It's a pretty spectacular feeling to know you're among the last in the United States to experience that last bit of totality as the eclipse continues to run its path.

You can hear the applause, the screams. You heard the emotion.

This fellow next to me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's amazing. It's like the world stopped for a bit and everyone just is seeing one exact image of the universe.

HARTUNG: You traveled here from Washington, D.C.?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Washington, D.C., yes. I got off work last night and came right over here. I had to see it. Amazing. Worth it. Every second.

[14:50:06] HARTUNG: And now, as if it couldn't be timed any better, the clouds are covering the sun, again, just like that. Amazing to see how it could work out in all of our favor to be able to experience that.

ANDERSON: Kaylee, I'm glad we were able to share that with you.

The first total eclipse across, coast to coast, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, in 99 years. It was wise of that young man to leave from work and be able to be able to witness it. It will not happen again until 2024, April 4, 2024.

Miles, we're continuing to follow this. How far out will people be able see this? Ships off the east coast of the United States? How far can people witness this?

O'BRIEN: I think, yes, it will go on for quite some time into the sea. If you're out on a ship. I don't know how long is the path lasts before it dissipates. You have to have the alignment of the new moon and the sun in a certain time frame, so eventually, that alignment will go away.

But I think if you're out on a yacht or freighter, you have a shot, for sure.

ANDERSON: David DeVorkin, the next total solar eclipse is going to be April of 2024. Is that something that's going to be as widely seen as this one coast to coast?

DEVORKIN: That's right. But it won't be coast to coast. It will be from Texas up into Maine. And there are plenty of people who are going to be along that eclipse line. The eclipse line is actually slightly larger, because the moon is slightly closer to us. So I predict that it will be every bit as exciting as this one has been.

But I have to say that some of the reactions of those people on the beach were just marvelous, talking about the universe being right here. In fact, it brings the universe right here. There was a famous astronomer named Sandy Faber, from the University of California, Lick Observatory. She once said, you know, the fascinating thing about astronomy is the universe is right here. And we all experienced it just now.

ANDERSON: Yes, I mean, it's such a good point, David, with the sun so far away, even the moon so far away, hundreds of thousands of miles, to see it in such a personal way, to feel -- this is one of the few moments you can really feel connected to it in one's life.

DEVORKIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. That's the essence of the experience. I carry away the eclipses I've seen in 1970 and 2006 and even the ones that I went to that were cloudy, but I still experienced. I'll have them all my life.

ANDERSON: You never forget them?


ANDERSON: Chad Myers, it's so interesting to hear people say that, you know, once you see one, you kind of want to continue seeing them, you want to witness and experience it again.

MYERS: Well, could you not imagine why, if you had those feelings, those chills, those goosebumps just from going over totality. Kind of sneak out here in Atlanta to look at our sky. We're about 85 or 86 percent here. That's pretty impressive. But that's not 99 or 100 that those people did feel. We're talking about the next event in 2024. In fact, it takes a line

almost from Dallas to Buffalo, as we take a look at magic two. And here is the eclipse we had today, and here is the eclipse in 2024. Right there, Carbondale, Illinois. You get them both.

ANDERSON: Book your tickets now? Is that what you're saying?

MYERS: That's right.

ANDERSON: It's amazing, Chad, you had people trying to figure out the best place to witness this, and then the luck of the draw, the clouds were some in areas, Nashville and elsewhere. But I was impressed by and kind of surprised by, even in places where it was cloudy, it seemed like the sun would be able to peek through, even for a short amount of time, so the people didn't feel too disappointed.

MYERS: That's exactly right. What happens during the afternoon in the summer time, especially when there's humidity, Midwest, southeast, is that you get the clouds to bubble up. If they bubble up because the air is rising, because the air on the ground is warm down here, you can take away the sun, what happens? The cool air comes in instead, the clouds collapse and go away, at least briefly during that shadow period. And so you get clearing of the skies where you thought you had no chance whatsoever.

[14:54:56] ANDERSON: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to take you to a cruise ship where Bonnie Tyler is performing "Total Eclipse of the Heart." We'll be right back.


ANDERSON: It only lasted a few minutes but the memory will certainly last a lifetime. From coast to coast, millions of Americans have just witnessed the first total solar eclipse in a century. The rare celestial event has just ended in the United States, concluded off the coast of South Carolina, as people gathered to watch the moon completely block the sun's surface, what's known as totality. However, a partial eclipse will remain for about another hour.

Chad Myers describing -- describe what -- Chad joining us.

Chad, describe what's happening right now.