WAPAKONETA, Ohio (WKEF) -- The countdown is on for the total solar eclipse that will be viewable in parts of Ohio in 2024. The phenomenon will happen on April 8, and the event will be viewable in totality for almost four full minutes in Wapakoneta, which is also Neil Armstrong's birthplace. Other cities in the path of totality are Dayton, Toledo, Bowling Green and Akron.
Thousands of people are expected to flock to Wapakoneta and surrounding areas to experience the magic of a total solar eclipse. Michael Brillhart, the director of public service and safety for Wapakoneta said the city is expected to see anywhere between 40-100 thousand people, depending on weather.
"It’s going to be a phenomenal opportunity, especially here in Neil Armstrong’s hometown," said Brillhart.
The last time a total solar eclipse could be seen in this area was 1806, and the next one will not be visible here until 2099, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The Executive Director of Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Dante Centuori said even if you think you are close enough to the path of totality, you should find a way to get somewhere that you can see it fully.
"Go to totality. Ninety-eight percent partial eclipse is not a total eclipse. You want to go into totality. It’s amazing. Trust me," said Centuori.
It might be a little hard to do that if you have not already booked a hotel to stay in. Brillhart said all of the hotels in the area are already booked for that weekend. The total solar eclipse will be on a Monday, but the weekend before will be filled with festivities.
Armstrong Air & Space Museum will be open for longer hours, and educational programs will be focused on the eclipse. People will be taught how to build viewers to be able to view it safely. There will be guided tours and other events will be moved outside to make it easier for people to participate in the viewing.
Local stores are also expected to be open longer hours, and some will have sales going that weekend. Restaurants are already preparing for the big weekend.
"The restaurants are at full speed ahead. Food trucks will be coming here. Our parks will be busy and active," said Brillhart.
Safety will be a priority for the city. County sheriffs and even Ohio’s National Guard will be helping out. Brillhart said that more parts of the city will have stationed areas for police, firefighters and EMS so that anyone who needs assistance can get it easier than having to go to the normal facilities.
When it comes to safety, it is also important to view the eclipse safely by using solar eclipse glasses. Even though a lot of the sun will be blocked out by the moon, Centuori said it is never safe to look directly at the sun. A total solar eclipse can still damage your eyes.
The city is also expecting that this once-in-a-lifetime event will be an economic boost for the city. Wapakoneta officials are estimating that it will bring around $50 million to the city.
To learn more about the total solar eclipse in Ohio, follow this link.