Due to a solar eclipse on August 21st, the small American town of Makanda, Illinois is currently preparing for a massive migration of space nerds and astro gazers. Makanda anticipates the arrival of tens of thousands of visitors. A total solar eclipse is passing Midwest America on that day and this location will provide an ideal view of the event for a full two minutes and forty-two seconds. That isn’t bad considering it will travel at a rate of 1,500 miles per hour.
Here’s the problem. Makanda is a small community of 561.
That is a total population of five hundred and sixty-one. This makes Makanda more of a village than a town. As hosts, the village is expected to entertain visitors at a ratio of at least 20 guests per person. This includes men, women, children and babies. A daunting task, but the village seems more than ready to handle this late-summer event. Their main website welcomes anyone from the region to come witness the event.
It is believed to be the most viewed eclipse ever. A room in Makanda is allegedly fetching a $3800 price for the night. Call it “eclipse fever”, the mania over seeing the celestial event has people booking hotels within its path across the United States. Makanda will be transformed into an astronomical Woodstock overnight.
The question is: will Makanda be able to provide the multitude of visitors the utilities and infrastructure required for their visit? Makanda’s website seems to think so, highlighting many other village attractions. However, any park or bed and breakfast would be overshadowed (pun intended) by this event 99 years in the making.
It has been nearly one hundred years since the last time a total solar eclipse crossed the continent. It would make you think that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It isn’t. A second total solar eclipse is set to occur on April 8, 2024.
Only time will tell if the village of Makanda can handle this large-scale event. If not, they will always have a second chance at it a few years down the road.
Alex Correa | The Edge Blog