Beyond the 2024 eclipse: search trends around the spectacle

Marketing Data Analyst

I still remember the first time I saw the solar eclipse glasses. Being uninformed, I had no idea why these 3D-glasses-looking cardboard cutouts were by the checkout of a small, holiday-themed store in November 2023. Even more, dear reader, I didn’t do a Google search to find out.

In today’s world, information is *literally* at our fingertips. And yet so many of us ignore the gift of technology and stumble through important life moments.

Like the 2024 eclipse.

Eventually, I became aware the eclipse was coming. Being near the path of totality, and having previously lived in said path, more and more people started sharing about it and why I should care. This is where my assumptions started to creep in.

Tweet by Jordan Klepper with a joke about the eclipse in Ohio
I’m from Pennsylvania so I relish any and all Ohio jokes.

While I admit it’s an amazing thing, I had no plans to travel or watch the entire unfolding of the solar eclipse on Monday. My company gave us time off to view it, and I decided it would be the perfect time for a nap.

I signed off, put on a baking show, and drifted off into a dreamy afternoon snooze. Suddenly my sleep was disrupted by neighbors outside my window saying “Wow, you actually can see it.”

All my disinterest fell away, and I scurried outside to get a glimpse of this amazing phenomenon. What was I expecting? A black circle covering the sun. I assumed at 98% totality, I’d still get most of the experience and could take a little peak and be able to say I saw it.

I walked off my porch, saw the direction in which my neighbors were staring with their little glasses on, and stared directly at the sun (like Taylor told me).

It suddenly became very clear why the solar eclipse glasses had been on sale for months.

Realizing I’d made a huge mistake, I quickly looked away and prepared to go back inside, underwhelmed, and annoyed. A neighbor then offered me her glasses and I was able to glimpse what was happening through the insane brightness.

All of this could’ve been avoided if I kept my window closed so I couldn’t hear my neighbors outside. JK. It could’ve been avoided if I just did a Google search months ago and educated myself.

Hilariously, I wasn’t alone in my mistake.

Total solar eclipse search trends

Watching all the time lapses from people who experienced the totality of the solar eclipse was cool, but my favorite part of the 2024 eclipse was the Google trend that occurred right after the big moment.

Search term: Eyes hurt

Google Trend result of "eyes hurt" during eclipse week

Searches about how eyes hurt spiked during the total solar eclipse, which, as a data nerd, tells me there were many people, like me, who thought no big deal. Whether we missed the signs or ignored the warnings, we boldly looked at the solar eclipse with no glasses and laughed in the face of danger.

Then sought help from Google when our eyes hurt.

Madame Web blinded in the hospital meme, joking about people who looked at the eclipse without glasses
Me and millions of other American’s post-eclipse (estimated)

To be fair, I didn’t ask Google why my eyes hurt. That was one question I didn’t need answered. But I love seeing how we as a collective experience things, both good and bad.

What else did eclipse data show?

While the data coming out of the 2024 eclipse shows me I wasn’t alone in my lack of eclipse planning, it also demonstrates how many people were prepared.

Occupancy levels in the path of totality

Occupancy levels in the path of totality for the eclipse

AirDNA shared a post about 2024 solar eclipse trends they observed through occupancy rates. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this chart is basically a whole article unto itself.

Activity levels in cities closest to the path of totality

City activity levels during the eclipse

Mapbox demonstrated the change in city activity, looking at historical data from previous Mondays and comparing it to eclipse Monday.

The search for safety goggles

I would say these people are the procrastinators, the ones who, like me, saw the eclipse glasses for months and assumed they’d have time. Until they didn’t.

Search term: Eclipse glasses

Google Trend result of "eclipse glasses" during eclipse week

Even my brother was one of these searchers, frantically texting me the night before the eclipse to see if I could get some at the store because he couldn’t find them.

Library sign about not having any more eclipse glasses
Libraries are the unsung heroes

The time we all became eclipse experts

Have you ever used the phrase “path of totality” in your life? Me neither, but for a brief moment we were all astronomers.

Search term: Path of totality

Google Trend result of "path of totality" during eclipse week

What does “path of totality” even mean? Where is it happening? I’d wager this likely fueled some of those last-minute searches, but not all. It appears a lot of people are becoming eclipse chasers after April 8’s performance.

Google Trend related queries of "path of totality" during eclipse week

Hey Alexa, play my eclipse playlist

Since the dawn of modern music, we’ve been making a soundtrack for the big moments in our lives. The eclipse is no exception. For a lot of us, there was only one way to kick it off.

Search term: Total Eclipse of the Heart

Google Trend result of "total eclipse of the heart" during eclipse week

Turn around, bright eyes! Bonnie Tyler had her well-deserved moment leading up to the eclipse. I even used the lyrics as my out-of-office reply.

Meme with a girl holding money about Bonne Tyler and her earning from all the eclipse awareness
Actual footage of Bonnie Tyler

Where the hell ya been, loca?

As someone who was a teenage girl during the vampire craze, there was only one way for me to close this post. It wasn’t only the outside eclipse that trended.

Search term: Twilight Eclipse

Google Trend result of "twilight eclipse" during eclipse week

You could argue that people were searching this in terms of the time of day, like an eclipse around twilight, but the related topics and queries tell me this was largely people like me making jokes about the Stephanie Meyer classic.

I even celebrated the solar eclipse with this as my Teams background earlier in the day.

Chelsea with her Twilight Eclipse teams background

My coworkers didn’t get it, but it wasn’t for them. It was for me.

Will I travel for the path of totality in the next eclipse? No. Will I buy glasses in case I want to see? Probably. Will I scour the Internet afterward and check trends to see what the people wanted to know about the eclipse? Absofrutely.

Eclipses are fleeting. Data is forever.

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Marketing Data Analyst
Growing up, Chelsea dreamed of two things: going to Hogwarts and combining her passion for numbers and creativity. Fortunately, one of these careers exists in the real world and she’s spent the last decade honing her digital marketing skills. She brings passion into every project and works to find the story in the data. In fact, don’t get her started on SEO, email marketing, or analytics, because she may never stop talking. When she’s not dreaming of numbers, she enjoys baking, reading, and obsessing over her pug, Penny.

Our Take

Nobody likes to hear people squawk about marketing. So, we wrote it all down for you.

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