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Ball State has big plans leading up to the total solar eclipse in April

bsu planetarium.jpeg
Posted at 7:11 AM, Feb 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-07 07:11:13-05

MUNCIE — The countdown to the total solar eclipse is on.

Central Indiana is a little over 60 days away until the moon will pass between the sun and earth — plunging much of the Hoosier state into darkness.

Close to 4 million people live in the Path of Totality in Indiana.

“When you see these total solar eclipses, if you wait for one to come to you, you have to wait 375 years. In Indiana, most of it had to wait a thousand years," Planetarium Director Dayna Thompson said.

Ball State’s Charles W. Brown Planetarium is an immersive theater where state-of-the-art technology transforms the 16-meter dome—the largest in Indiana—into a simulation of the night sky as seen from Earth and from space.

Thompson says the university has been preparing for this astronomical phenomenon for years.

The majority of the educational programming at the planetarium will happen in the days leading up to April 8.

Some of those events include:

  • Friday, April 5:

    5:30 p.m.: “Earth, Moon, & Sun” Planetarium Show[bsu.edu]—Learn the basics of fusion and solar energy and why the Sun rises and sets.

    6:30 p.m.: “Eclipse: The Sun Revealed” Planetarium Show [bsu.edu]—Learn how solar and lunar eclipses happen, and about scientific discoveries that have been supported by total solar eclipses.

  • Saturday, April 6, and Sunday, April 7:

    Hourly shows from 2:30-7 p.m.: Special Saturday and Sunday Eclipse Activities—Learn about solar eclipses during special workshops, lectures, planetarium programs, and more. More information, including show titles, can be found here [bsu.edu].

The weekend is slated with special workshops, lectures, planetariums shows, theatre and more.
“During the eclipse itself, we’re encouraging folks to take the information they learned at our events the weekend before, the months before the event and experience the eclipse in their own backyard or at the destination that they choose," Thompson said.

The opportunity to watch from his home state is something graduate student Caleb Whitcomb has been waiting for his whole life.

As a little kid, he was always fascinated by the expansive wonders of the night sky.

“I always loved reading about the space race. My childhood hero was Neil Armstrong," Whitcomb said.

In 2017, Whitcomb traveled to a farm near Hopkinsville, Kentucky to see the total solar eclipse with his own two eyes.

It was an experience that inspired him to go back to school to study astronomy.

“You can just feel things starting to change. You can feel it becoming darker. The temperature is starting to drop a bit. You can actually hear some of the animals going, you can hear cicadas like it was twilight," Whitcomb said.

It’s important to protect your eyes when viewing a total solar eclipse.

That’s why the university is offering over 20,000 certified solar eclipse glasses to the public for free.

“They let in 1/1000th of a percentage of sunlight. Basically, they block enough sunlight so that your eyes are safe. You never wanna look at the sun without these safety glasses," Thompson said.

When do you wear them and when can you take them off?

When watching partial phases of the eclipse before and after totality glasses should be worn.

During the roughly 3 minute and 40 second window of totality — when the sun is completely blocked — it is safe to remove them.

Experts also say it’s important to use certified eyewear. Normal sunglasses will not cut it.

For a list of what the City of Muncie and the Muncie Visitors Bureau are doing for the eclipse —including resources, viewing sites, lodging, activities, and more — click here.