Optimal Viewing of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse is Only a Short Drive from Cincinnati

Data from the 2017 eclipse suggests you might want to list your place on AirBnb...like, now.

click to enlarge Eclipse enthusiasts say "no photograph can capture the stunning beauty of a total solar eclipse, you must see it for yourself." - Photo: Drew Rae, Pexels
Photo: Drew Rae, Pexels
Eclipse enthusiasts say "no photograph can capture the stunning beauty of a total solar eclipse, you must see it for yourself."
A rare total solar eclipse will pass over the U.S. in 2024; rarer even is how accessible the event will be for Cincinnatians.

The sun will be fully obscured by the moon on April 8, causing a visible solar corona to the naked eye for a few precious minutes. In full blazing glory, the path of totality, where onlookers can experience total darkness and optimal brilliance, will be only a short drive from Cincy.

"Simply put, a total eclipse of the sun is the most beautiful sight you will ever see in the sky," writes greatamericaneclipse.com. "Nothing can prepare you for the amazing sight when the sky suddenly darkens and the Sun’s corona shines in the sky. No photograph can capture the stunning beauty of a total solar eclipse, you must see it for yourself."

During the 2017 eclipse, Greater Cincinnati residents needed to drive about four and a half hours to reach the point of totality, in Cerulean, Kentucky. That drive will be cut down significantly in 2024.

Cincy's closest possible points for the best view

According to the eclipse2024.org's interactive map, the path of totality from the eclipse will arch through much of southern and eastern Indiana and through western and northern sections of Ohio.
click to enlarge The center line of the April 2024 total solar eclipse will be just a short drive from Cincinnati. - Photo: Google Maps
Photo: Google Maps
The center line of the April 2024 total solar eclipse will be just a short drive from Cincinnati.
Closest spot for the path of totality:
Local onlookers will have the shortest drive to total darkness when visiting Harrison, Ohio, just 25 minutes from Cincinnati's downtown. Barring bad weather, the full eclipse will last around one minute and 40 seconds in Harrison. (Technically, Blue Jay, Ohio is the closest Cincinnati will get to the total eclipse, but you'll sacrifice a minute of total darkness, which you could get by driving just eight minutes up the road to Harrison).

Closest spot for the path's center line:
If you want even more totality, you’ll need to get further north to the centerline. That will be just north of Shelbyville, Indiana on I-74, about an hour and a half from Cincinnati's downtown. Known as the eclipse's center line, this path offers the most breathtaking corona lasting more than four minutes.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is preparing for the event, saying the department is in the process of planning events to lead up to those four dazzling minutes.

"We look forward to providing you with outdoor places to gather to watch the eclipse, great programs in the days before and during the event, and options for lodging so you can be ready and in place to enjoy it," the department writes.

Why you should start planning, like, now

After the 2024 eclipse, the next total solar eclipse won't pass over the U.S. again until August of 2044. While the big day is nearly seven months out, 2017's eclipse suggests it pays to plan ahead.

Nebraska boasted a huge stretch of the 2017 path of totality, drawing thousands of visitors aching for a glimpse of the wondrous spectacle, creating a huge boom for the state's economy.

VisitNebraska.com, an official website of the Nebraska Tourism Commission, estimates the only minutes-long event brought in at least $127 million in economic impact for the state.

"The eclipse generated 60.6% of the out-of-state visitor trips that weekend; 45% said they're likely to return within seven years," the commission writes.

Hotels and short-term rentals saw some of the biggest boosts.

According to STR, a global research company serving the hospitality industry, hotels in the path of totality reported a 244% increase in revenue per available room on the night before the eclipse. The three days leading up to the eclipse reported an 87% increase.

Booking data for those three days ahead of the eclipse mirrors data that show just how jam-packed roads were on the path to totality.

A 2017 eclipse traffic study published by the Department of Engineering at South Carolina State University said state highway patrols experienced jams along major roadways leading toward top eclipse destinations.

"In 2017, traffic started increasing three days before the eclipse day," study authors write. "During the total solar eclipse, the Oregon National Guard was called to help manage traffic in Madras along US26 and US97 in Oregon. In Idaho, police patrols were stationed every 15 miles as traffic jams began in the morning eclipse day along I-15. In South Carolina, state police were also increased in number, and first responders were assigned to the entire stretch of I-26 to mitigate heavy traffic."

Safety first, vibes second

And don't forget, just because you're in the path of totality doesn't mean your eyes are totally safe.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) writes, during those precious moments of total eclipse, "it is perfectly safe to look directly at the sun, even through binoculars or a telescope. But whenever any part of the photosphere is uncovered, it is essential to view the sun through a safe solar filter, that is, one that meets the transmission requirements of the ISO 12312-2 international standard."

Such filters are widely available and cheap, and it pays to be careful.

"Looking at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through dark sunglasses or any other unapproved filter is a recipe for serious and potentially permanent eye injury," AAS writes.

Click here to view NASA's interactive map of the eclipse's path, and begin planning the best 40 seconds to four minutes of your life.

Follow CityBeat's staff news writer Madeline Fening on Twitter and Instagram.

Subscribe to CityBeat newsletters.

Follow us: Apple News | Google News | NewsBreak | Reddit | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Or sign up for our RSS Feed

About The Author

Madeline Fening

Madeline Fening is CityBeat’s investigative news reporter. Proudly born and raised in Middletown, she attended Bowling Green State University before moving to Austin, Texas where she dabbled in documentary filmmaking, digital news and bartending. Madeline then moved to Cincinnati to work for WCPO 9 News as an...
Scroll to read more Cincinnati News articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.