Solar eclipse darkened skies, dampened internet traffic

Byteflow dropped by around half under some of the path of totality

Cloudflare has measured the state of the internet during the solar eclipse that was visible on Monday across a swathe of North America, and found a measurable decrease in traffic.

The eclipse's path of totality – the area in which the Moon completely blocks the view of the Sun, was first visible on land in Mexico and passed over large North American cities including Dallas, Indianapolis, and Montreal, with 31.6 million people experiencing darkness according to NASA. A partial eclipse was visible to around 150 million people.

Plenty of whom went offline to gawk at the celestial dance.

Cloudflare found that as the eclipse rolled across the US, bytes delivered traffic dropped by eight percent and request traffic dipped a dozen points, compared to the same time last week.

Unsurprisingly, drops were sharpest in US states in or close to the path of totality. In Vermont, for example, traffic dropped 60 percent. Arkansas saw internet traffic sink by 54 percent, while Indiana dipped by 50 percent.

In states that didn’t see much of the eclipse, traffic was less impacted. California, for example, saw traffic slip just nine percent.

Mexico also experienced sharp drops – again with areas in the path of totality leading the way. Durango saw traffic drop 57 percent. Mexico City, outside the path of totality, saw traffic decline by just 22 percent.

Canadians seem less likely to have gone offline to gape at the eclipse: its top traffic decline of 48 percent came in the tiny province of Prince Edward Island.

It is, of course, dangerous to look at an eclipse without eye protection. The same can probably be said about some corners of the internet. The Register reckons today the mean risk of eye damage probably balanced out.

One of the more interesting views of the eclipse was captured from the International Space Station, from which astronauts could watch the Moon's shadow passing across the face of Earth.

The space agency has not, at the time of writing, shared info on the three rockets it launched during the eclipse to understand how such events impact the ionosphere. We know the three launched – albeit after some slight delays – but eagerly await results of their investigations. ®

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