Live Streaming the Solar Eclipse: Behind the Scenes

Blog Post created by milmore on Aug 24, 2017

On August 21, 2017, millions of Americans took part in America’s big space event – the total solar eclipse. It was first time in almost 100 years that a total solar eclipse was visible from coast to coast, and the first time in 38 years that one has been visible anywhere in the contiguous U.S.


It was also the first total eclipse in the age of the Internet, with NASA live streaming the event to huge success. At the midpoint of its live stream, NASA reported that there were 4.4 million viewers, making the eclipse the most viewed event in the agency’s history.


Limelight was hard at work to make sure everyone could watch it. Together with our customer InfoZen and other vendors (including our competitors), we helped NASA live stream the eclipse event to audiences around the globe at


Limelight was also responsible for NASA website delivery, working closely with InfoZen leading up to the event to optimize the website, pinpoint issues that might affect scaling, and tune its CDN configuration to ensure that NASA servers were not overwhelmed on the day of the event. The result? The NASA website was stable, fast, and responsive throughout this historical event.


Some interesting facts from Limelight’s perspective: 

  • The top five states with the most viewers were California, Florida, Texas, Georgia and New York.
  • Analyzing viewership from the states that were in the line of the eclipse, Wyoming represented the smallest number of viewers with just 0.18% tuning into the live stream.
  • Notably, each of the states that were on the eclipse’s course individually contributed less than 2% of viewership to the live stream – showing that people who had the opportunity, opted to catch the action in person.
  • Companies manufactured more than 40 million eclipse glasses for the event. If eclipse glasses were bits, Limelight has capacity to deliver that amount every 1.6 microseconds.


For many people today, streaming isn’t just the more convenient option – it’s a critical resource for “accessing the world,” providing a new medium to view everything from educational materials to historical events. Going forward, it’s more important than ever that the right technologies are in place to effectively support the growing demand for live streamed content, allowing every citizen to be part of one of the biggest moments in history.