A Total Eclipse Will Sweep The US In August, And People Are Going Nuts For It – NPR
On Monday, Aug. 21, a solar eclipse will be visible across America. The last time the contiguous United States saw a total eclipse was 1979, and it will be the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in 99 years, reports The Associated Press.
A partial eclipse will be visible throughout the United States, according to NASA. But within a band that the agency is calling the “path of totality” stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, viewers will witness a total eclipse. And in many of those places, an eclipse industry is already booming.
The mayor of Hopkinsville, Ky., says his town has spent more than half a million dollars preparing for the event since learning 10 years ago that the area would be in the path of totality.
The town even has an eclipse coordinator.
“It’ll look like twilight outside. You’ll be able to see stars. Four planets will be visible — Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Mercury. You’ll notice the temperature drop about 5 to 10 degrees,” the coordinator, Brooke Jung, told the AP. “You’ll notice that animals will get a little disoriented. Birds will think that it’s nighttime and go in to roost. Some of the flowers and plants that close up at night will close up.”
“If it’s cloudy, then we’ll just have to deal with that reality as best we can and help people get to other locations,” Mayor Carter Hendricks told the AP. “But, if somehow we overprepare and we’re underwhelmed by the crowd size, that’s a big concern for me.”
Homes on Airbnb that are being rented specifically for the eclipse are going for thousands of dollars a night, like this one, in Casper, Wyo.
Perryville, Mo., is also on the path of total eclipse. “We don’t normally rent out our house because this is not normally a tourist destination,” the town’s public works director, Mark Brown, told the St. Louis-Post Dispatch. He said he had listed his house on Airbnb for $2,500 a night during the eclipse, with a three-night minimum.
“We don’t want to give up our house,” he told the newspaper, “but everybody’s got a number.”
The Charleston Post and Courier reports that a million people are expected to visit South Carolina for the eclipse. Charleston’s visitors bureau has set up a website listing area viewing events and hotel packages. Total eclipse will occur there at 2:48 p.m. ET, according to NASA.
“Highway 17 will be gridlock,” College of Charleston astrophysicist Laura Penny told the newspaper. “If you’re in the path of totality, you’re better off watching it right where you are. But if you’re in an area where the sun is even 99.9 percent covered, it won’t be the same thing. You have to get inside the path of totality to experience the phenomenon of darkness in the middle of the day.”
Oregon will be a major hot spot for eclipse watchers. Viewers there will experience the total eclipse first, with Salem and Corvallis in the path of totality at 10:18 a.m. PT.
Like South Carolina, the state is bracing for a massive influx of visitors. Up to a million people are expected to travel to Oregon for the event, the AP reports, and the area around the small town of Madras is expected to draw 100,000 people — with the potential for out-of-this-world traffic jams.