Satellite view at 4:50 p.m. EST shows the sun disappearing from the sky.
Millions of eyewitnesses watched in stunned horror Tuesday as light emptied from the sky, plunging the U.S. and neighboring countries into darkness. As the hours progressed, conditions only worsened.
At approximately 4:20 p.m. EST, the sun began to lower from its position in the sky in a westward trajectory, eventually disappearing below the horizon. Reports of this global emergency continued to file in from across the continent until 5:46 p.m. PST, when the entire North American mainland was officially declared dark.
As the phenomenon hit New York, millions of motorists were forced to use their headlights to navigate through the blackness. Highways flooded with commuters who had left work to hurry home to their families. Traffic was bottlenecked for more than two hours in many major metropolitan areas.
Across the country, buses and trains are operating on limited schedules and will cease operation shortly after 12 a.m. EST, leaving hundreds of thousands of commuters in outlying areas effectively stranded in their homes.
Despite the high potential for danger and decreased visibility, scientists say they are unable to do anything to restore light to the continent at this time.
“Vast gravitational forces have rotated the planet Earth on an axis drawn through its north and south poles,” said Dr. Elena Bilkins of the National Weather Service. “The Earth is in actuality spinning uncontrollably through space.”