Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Hoosier state prepares for eclipse viewing with education and fun

Several local places are supplying residents with eclipse glasses to help them safely view the moons path across the sun, including the Allen County Public Library which has been providing glasses to people enrolled in their eclipse programming.
Ella Abbott
Several local places are supplying residents with eclipse glasses to help them safely view the moons path across the sun, including the Allen County Public Library which has been providing glasses to people enrolled in their eclipse programming.

As the Hoosier state gears up for the eclipse on Monday, several places are offering safe and fun places to watch the once in a lifetime celestial event.

Throughout the last few weeks, Allen County Public Library has been prepping both children and adults for the upcoming total eclipse, hosting several programs geared towards better understanding the celestial phenomenon.

Beth Boatright is the director of community partnerships and programs. She said it’s important for the library to act as a community resource during events like this.

"So, this eclipse is a perfect opportunity for us to provide experts to the community who can teach our kids and our grownups about what's happening around us, about what to expect, how to be safe, and what we can learn from this," Boatright said.

While most of Allen County is outside of the path of totality – the path where the moon will completely cover the sun – Monroeville in southeast Allen falls right in that path. Which includes the library’s branch.

Ella Abbott

"Everybody says that the path of totality is truly a special experience, so we're offering a program in Monroeville on the 8th, it's actually already full, the sign-ups are closed, to make sure that people who do come out to Monroeville have a good experience," Boatright said.

The library is planning to increase staff and security to make the program safe and successful.

But even though most of Allen County and further north won’t see total coverage of the sun, residents in those areas can still expect quite the show, with over 90% coverage.

In Fort Wayne, for example, the sun will be 99.8% covered by the moon. For comparison, in 2017, Fort Wayne only saw about 86% coverage.

Sarah Vise is Science Central’s education programs and technology manager, as well as an ambassador for NASA in her free time. Vise said this eclipse is a once in a lifetime event.

"So, 99.8% of the sun will be hidden behind the moon," she said. "So, while, no, we won't be in totality, the majority of the sun is still hidden behind the moon during the total eclipse for us."

But for those inside the path of totality, they can expect a momentary period of nighttime during the eclipse. During this time, wildlife may act differently, with nocturnal animals coming out and crickets beginning to chirp.

Vise said people can expect to see stars and planets in the sky that would usually only be visible on a clear night. As for outside the totality…

"The majority of the sun is still hidden behind the moon during the total eclipse for us," she said. "We should still be able to notice a drop in light and a drop in temperature."

Down in Indianapolis, where many are expected to be traveling to experience the totality, the state fair grounds are opening their gates to host celestial-themed festivities.

Leroy Lewis is the spokesman for the fairgrounds. He said, with the capacity for more than 20,000 people, they knew the fairgrounds would be a great place for people to come together to experience the eclipse.

Partnering with several groups from the community, including DJs from Radio 1 and Cumulus, Lewis said they’re planning some great programming before and after the eclipse.

Chuck Lofton from WTHR is planning on bringing his weather team to present the eclipse.

"Chuck is gonna open up his show early in the morning," Lewis said. "Start talking a little bit about what's gonna happen that day."

Lofton will also present a noon and evening show at the fairgrounds, following the eclipse.

Ella Abbott

Lewis said they want to get people in and out of the fairgrounds as easily and safely as possible and ask for those visiting to plan ahead and have patience.

"If we have people coming in early and having their space or their spot already set, then we're not worried about them being out on the streets clogging up and causing any traffic jams," he said.

Gates open at the fairgrounds at 9 a.m., and Lewis says the earlier people arrive the better and, after the eclipse, he hopes people will hang out and enjoy the programming and wait out the traffic before leaving.

The programming will include educational programs, the WTHR weather team’s exhibit on severe weather in central Indiana, live music and some themed fair food.

"So, some of our normal fair food with a little bit of a solar flare to it, if you will," Lewia said. "And then some of what we call our Lunar Libations, specialty drinks that we're going to be having for our team as well."

The most important thing for people planning to watch the eclipse to remember is to be safe.

"A solar eclipse can be rather dangerous," Vise said. "Of course, a lot of people understand that it's not okay to look at the sun with our bare eyes, things sort of get muddy when we're talking about looking at the sun during a solar eclipse."

The library has been handing out glasses to participants in their eclipse programs, but they don’t have enough this year to hand them out to the general public.

"So, we had, you know, a few hundred to give away and that's where we are giving them away, at the libraries," Boatright said.

The fairgrounds will hand out glasses to visitors, as long as supplies last, and Science Central is selling them in their gift shop for $3.99, again as long as their supplies last.

But if you miss out on those, or don’t want to risk them running out, the American Astronomical Society has a list online of approved retailers who manufacture or sell eclipse glasses, many of which can be found through online retailers like Walmart, Target and Amazon.

But, buyers want to make sure they’re checking that any glasses they purchase are certified safe for the eclipse to avoid any eye problems following the show.

And, both Boatright and Vice agree this experience isn’t one to be missed.

"There are also psychological studies to say that seeing and witnessing a total eclipse," Vise said. "To see that midday darkness, to see the stars and the planets and the sun's corona, midday, will change how you think about the world and change how you think about science."

Boatright hopes everyone will take a moment to stop and experience this eclipse, which there won’t be another one until the year 2099, and feel a little more connected to the world we live in.

"Look up and just experience what it's like to be living in this planet, in this place, at this moment. I think our minds are gonna be blown," she said. "And it's gonna be so fun to experience that together."

Depending on where in Indiana you’re watching from, the eclipse will take place between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. eastern standard time on Monday.

Ella Abbott

Ella Abbott is a multimedia reporter for 89.1 WBOI. She is a strong believer in the ways audio storytelling can engage an audience and create a sensory experience.