Last month, Americans turned out in droves for a once-in-a-lifetime event, as a total solar eclipse made its way across mainland US for the first time since 1918.
While we knew a lot of people watched it, a study from the University of Michigan has revealed just how popular the event was. And, well, it’s pretty impressive.
According to their study, 215 million adults watched the eclipse either directly or electronically. That’s 88 percent of the entire population of the US. Even more impressively, that’s more than twice the number of people who viewed the last Super Bowl (111 million).
“This level of public interest and engagement with a science-oriented event is unparalleled,” said Jon Miller, director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, in a statement.
The findings are based on responses from 2,211 adults, collected by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Miller conducted his research in partnership with NASA.
Of those who watched it, 61 million did so electronically – be that via the Internet, TV, or whatnot. Around 20 million travelled from their home to another area to be able to watch it, with only a thin band across the US actually seeing totality (which, having been there, I can tell you was a wonderful and unbeatable experience).
Only about 6.5 million watched the eclipse as part of an organized group, with most opting to see it with family or friends. This is probably because it occurred Monday morning on a regular working day. About a third of people took pictures or video, and half of those shared those on social media.
Somewhat amusingly, on a scale of zero to 10 on how much they enjoyed it, those surveyed gave it just an average of 7.6. Guess people are hard to please, eh. On an educational scale, they gave it a 7.
But hey, at least it was widely seen. If you were one of the 12 percent of Americans who didn’t watch the eclipse, fear not. There’s going to be another in 2024 that, while it won’t cross the whole US, it will be visible from Mexico all the way up to Maine. After that, you’ll have to wait until 2045.