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The Great American Eclipse - A Once In a Lifetime Opportunity

Last monday, we were able to see the Great North American Eclipse . . . or at least part of it. As it passed over the US, 15 states were able to see complete blockage of the sun. Unfortunately, Iowa only saw roughly 90% blockage. Due to its rarity, millions of people around the country traveled to the path of the eclipse to get a glimpse of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

What Made This Eclipse So Special?

The last eclipse we had that crossed over the US was in 2017 where it fully crossed the country from coast to coast. Since 1867, there have been just 17 eclipses that cross over the continental US. However, many of these passed over a very small portion of American territory. That’s what makes these last two eclipses so special: people could actually go see them! As stated before, the 2017 eclipse completely crossed the US from coast to coast, allowing millions of people across the country to see it. The only negative for this one was how thin the path of totality was. The path of totality for monday’s eclipse was much wider than the one in 2024. This, along with the amount of land it passed over, opened up the ability to see the eclipse for countless Americans.

The Eclipse Travel Craze

People were going crazy for this week's eclipse. Around 32 million people were already living in the path of totality and a whopping five million people traveled to come see the eclipse. This amount of people caused a ruckus among hotels and airbnb’s within the path of totality. The day before the eclipse, nearly every single airbnb was sold out. Just one day after the eclipse, the FAA was expecting over 46,000 flights out of the path of totality. 

A Perspective From Totality

Former North Scott student, Ava Hagedorn, reported on the eclipse for her college’s news station, HU16. Luckily, the path of totality passed right through her small college town of Searcy, Arkansas, and she was able to describe what it was like to see it and report on it! Most people who went to see the eclipse were generally excited to see what could potentially be a once in a lifetime experience. Hagedorn, on the other hand, stated that she was actually more nervous than excited due to her part in reporting on the entire event. Her expectations going into the eclipse were pretty low—especially after the 2017 eclipse. However, once it reached totality, she was blown away by the difference between a partial and total eclipse. 

"Pretty much everything in the world stilled for those two minutes or so."-- Ava Hagedorn

Unfortunately, there were still some negatives to the eclipse. Hagedorn stated that “local businesses actually lost up to a quarter of a million dollars because they over prepared for the crowds and the business.” In anticipation of huge crowds from the travel frenzy, many of the businesses were literally left in the dark. It's likely that many spectators largely ignored smaller towns like Searcy and traveled to bigger cities in the path of totality due to accessibility. Sadly, as you would expect, this led to smaller businesses over preparing for huge rushes, only to be met with a much smaller surge of customers. 

Even though this years eclipse and the 2017 eclipse weren't that far apart, that won't be the case for the next one. Unless you feel like traveling to Iceland in 2026, you're gonna have to wait 20 years to catch the next eclipse that passes over the United States in 2044!

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