September 1, 2017
Last week, millions of people throughout the country gazed up at the sky (hopefully with the right protective eye glasses) to watch a rare event, a full solar eclipse. Luckily, in Chicago, we had front row tickets for the spectacle, but outside that stretch of land where the eclipse was visible, millions were watching the eclipse online from their homes, offices, or smartphones.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Great American Solar Eclipse turned out to be NASA’s biggest online event in their history, and the metrics around it are jaw dropping.
Previous NASA Events
In the past two years alone, NASA has made some incredible accomplishments that warrant our attention. The New Horizons probe did a flyby of Pluto. They discovered liquid water on Mars. The Juno Space Probe did a close flyby of Jupiter. We even discovered new Earth-like Exoplanets elsewhere in the galaxy. Despite these amazing discoveries, they were all dwarfed by the eclipse. Interestingly, the eclipse was the one thing in this list that didn’t require NASA to do much of anything.
But, how popular was it?
Bigger than the Super Bowl
Nasa.gov and Eclipse2017.nasa.gov received more than 90 Million page views and the livestream of the eclipse had over 40 Million viewers. That’s a huge amount of traffic, but their reach on social media was even larger. Due to the influx of shares and likes on various social media platforms, NASA has a social reach of upwards of 3.6 Billion users and generated more than 6 Million tweets about the eclipse.
All in all, these numbers top their previous traffic numbers seven times over, and these traffic numbers are larger than the reported streaming numbers of recent NFL Super Bowls.
For a visual representation, take a look at NASA’s metric’s chart. You can see how the eclipse traffic completely overshadows anything else the account has done in the past.
It’s always great to see people take an interest in science and technology, and that’s what makes these metrics so encouraging. Millions of people in this country and around the world had a shared experience of the solar eclipse that we’ll remember for years. That shared experience was made possible by the internet and the technology we use every day.
Predictions for the Next Eclipse
For those that missed the eclipse either in-person or online, there’s another opportunity not long from now. On April 8, 2024, there will be another solar eclipse in North America, though not in the Chicago area. Instead, the eclipse will move from Northeast Mexico into Texas and then North to Maine and Canada. It will be interesting to see if these last records will be shattered again or if Americans have had their fill of solar eclipses for a while.
In either case, the place to watch the eclipse will definitely be NASA.gov.
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