Martz-Kohl Astronomical Observatory
Five months from now, an exceptionally rare and spectacular event will turn day into night across a narrow strip of Western New York’s skies. It will happen at 3:18 on Monday afternoon, April 8, 2024. A total solar eclipse is on the way.
Eclipses Are Big Business
About 300,000 people are expected to swarm into Western New York from all across North America and around the world to see this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. The last time it happened in New York was on January 24,1925–and it won’t happen again until October 26, 2144.
“Eclipse Chasers” will be chasing this narrow strip of eclipse total darkness across the country. They number themselves in the tens-of-millions worldwide. Wherever an eclipse occurs, it spurs a mass migration of eclipse-chasers, and local businesses always cash in on the unprecedented influx of tourists.
A total solar eclipse is a business bonanza. Though the actual eclipse only lasts minutes, the extravaganza that always surrounds it lasts for days. Consider New Year’s Eve. It lasts a mere moment—only one second to the next—but the festivities, as also with eclipses, have become long and legendary.
In 2017, a total eclipse crossed the U.S. in a different direction, but tourism alone swelled Wyoming’s economy by $63.5 million and South Carolina’s economy by $269 million—more than a quarter of a billion dollars for a few minutes of exquisite darkness. It brought starlight to the sky and night-birds to song at midday. Hotel rooms ranged from $900 to $1,300 per night.
Profitable Traffic Jams
Chautauqua County emergency services have urged local restaurants, gas stations, entertainment venues, and merchants of all kinds to stock up for an unprecedented sales event. Plan to open early and close late. The Sunday before the eclipse is predicted to be a busier shopping day than Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas combined this year.
The history of eclipse chasers all but guarantees that regionwide traffic jams will extend tourist stays by days—eclipse chasers have come to expect this—prompting even more tourism related shopping.
Local residents, by the way, are also advised to stock up before the weekend and stay off the roads. Schools will all be closed, too.
What We Will See
The skies will darken as the Moon moves between the Earth and the Sun, casting the Moon’s shadow on the Earth below. Along this narrow path which crosses North America from Mexico to Canada, it’s the Moon’s shadow that will race across the Earth’s surface causing daytime to become evening twilight.
Martz-Kohl Observatory will bring Jamestown Gazette readers more on the eclipse next week. Stay tuned and tune into www.martzobservatory.org.