New survey shows 1 in 4 Americans aren’t aware of upcoming eclipse

Some Americans don’t know about Eclipse

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Final preparations are underway to welcome as many as 500,000 visitors to the Finger Lakes region to experience the total solar eclipse. If you think you’ve seen and heard enough about the April 8 celestial event, you may be surprised to learn that researchers at RIT have found a quarter of Americans don’t even know it’s about to happen!

For Dr. Muhammet Kesgin said the upcoming eclipse is an opportunity to closely examine the people who will see it and how they’ll watch.

“I’m a professor, a researcher that studies events in hospitality and tourism,” he tells News10NBC. 

Typically, there is a human element involved when studying how an event impacts the community where it takes place but the eclipse is different.

“Normally events are put together with expressive and creative purposes but this is going to be happening without our control,” he explains. 

Dr. Kesgin and his team at RIT are surveying Americans before, during and after the eclipse.

“I would like to see what we can offer to the rest of the world, after this solar eclipse so I’m trying to learn as much as possible,” he says. 

The “before” survey shows 1 in 4 Americans don’t even know a total eclipse is happening.

“Awareness may not be as high as we think and lack of awareness can also create problems with the planning,” explains Dr. Kesgin. 

Problems like grid-lock traffic, communications troubles and stress on emergency services. 

But, there is some good news. Researchers found that awareness is much higher in areas that will experience totality. 

“It did matter, more than 80% of people in the path were at least somewhat familiar with the fact it’s happening,” says Dr. Kesgin. “We tried to capture those locations and we tried to bring different people to the survey from different parts in the United States.”

The survey also shows that there is a higher interest in travel into the path from people in areas who won’t otherwise be able to experience it. Those in an area that will see a partial eclipse, were less interested in traveling to a place in totality. 

Dr. Kesgin’s team will be taking another survey the week before the eclipse and then one after it.