MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ — Whether you traveled to a state in the direct path of eclipse totality or stayed local to get a glimpse of this cosmic rarity, people were prepared to witness one of the greatest astronomical moments in our lifetime.

People came in droves to Monday's eclipse viewing at Mountainside's Trailside Nature and Science Center. Many came with the special NASA glasses in hand which were shared so everyone could have a glimpse of the crescent appearance of the moon passing by the sun. But those without the special glasses came with DIY contraptions to filter or project the sun's rays.

The sun’s UV radiation can burn the retinas in the eyes leading to permanent damage or even blindness. This can occur even if your eyes are exposed to direct sunlight for just a few seconds.The only way to safely view the Sun – eclipsed or not – is to either project or filter the sun's rays.

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Check out photo gallery of various ways people viewed the eclipse using projection boxes, silver strainers projecting onto paper plates, to the use of welding protective eyewear. 

Monday marked the first time since Feb. 26, 1979 that a total solar eclipse was visible from anywhere in the United States. It was also the first time in 99 years that a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire contiguous United States.

That means, according to NASA, that "all of North America was able to see a partial or total solar eclipse. Along the path of totality (a narrow, 70-mile-wide path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina and passing through 14 states) the moon completely blocked the sun, revealing the sun’s faint outer atmosphere." New Jersey was out of the path and observers outside witnessed a partial solar eclipse where the moon covered part of the sun's disk, leaving a crescent moon light. 

In the Watchung Reservation, the eclipse peaked around 2:44 p.m., when the moon obscured more than 70 percent of the sun.