Utah town hopes to benefit from celestial sightseeing

Thought to be one of the best places on earth to view the annual solar eclipse on May 20, the small town of Kanarraville, Utah is hoping to draw a considerable number of “astrotourists” this spring. Defined as those willing to travel to study astronomy or observe the sky, astrotourists are common in the region, where dark nighttime skies make stellar stargazing spots.

“I heard of the concept two years ago,” Bonnie Oldroyd, a representative from the Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau told The Daily Spectrum. “I thought, ‘What the heck is astro-tourism?’ I did some research and found out we have astro-tourism.”

It’s estimated that around 5,000 of these astrotourists will descent upon the town in order to see the moon pass between the sun and the earth, leaving just a ring of light from the sun. Considering Kanarraville has a population of merely 300 people, the uptick in tourism is a pretty big deal. Public safety workers will deal with traffic and parking around popular viewing areas, and the tourism bureau is working with nearby hotels to provide special “eclipse packages” for the date. The rest of Southern Utah–besides the areas affected by lights from Las Vegas–might see increased tourism as well.

Would you–or have you–ever planned a trip around stargazing? Hopefully the clouds don’t roll in and ruin it all.

[Photo by makelessnoise / Flickr]