Burning Questions About The Solar Eclipse

Monday’s event will be a once-in-a-misbehaving-moon opportunity, so grab your eclipse glasses (hope you already bought some!), shield your smartphone, and get ready to go gaga over the solar blackout.

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I’ve been throwing around the term “path of totality.” So, what does it mean?

This is NASA-speak for what’s about to happen: The moon completely blocks the face of the sun and darkness descends on everything in the eclipse’s path. Indiana’s outside it, though, meaning we’ll only experience a “partial eclipse” when the moon covers about 90 percent of the sun—which is like settling for Super Bowl tickets if you can’t go to the Olympics.

What will it actually look like?

Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium Director Brian Murphy says the sky will snap from bright light to a 30-minutes-after-sunset equivalent in under a minute once the total eclipse starts. Most people, if they didn’t know better, wouldn’t even notice an eclipse was going on. Also, it will cool off when 90 percent of the sunlight disappears, and mid-afternoon temperatures might be milder than usual.

If I blink, will I miss it?

The total eclipse will only last for about two-and-a-half minutes. However, in Indianapolis, the partial affair will begin at approximately 12:57 p.m. and continue until around 3:48 p.m. The eclipse’s maximum effect will occur at 2:25 p.m. in Indianapolis.

Do I really need those geeky glasses?

Yes. If you don’t use them or a pinhole camera, you can expect permanent eye damage and possibly even blindness, Murphy says. Don’t ’gram this sun show either—pointing your camera directly at the spectacle can fry your phone.

It will be dark enough to day-drink. Where should I go?

Bier Brewery (5133 E. 65th St.) will throw a Solar Eclipse Party from 1 to 7 p.m. Flat 12 Bierworks (414 Dorman St.) will host a Dark Side of the Moon Eclipse Party from noon to 5 p.m, offering lunch specials like Moon and Sun dogs—Nathan’s hot dogs wrapped in Muenster and Swiss cheese—with a side of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Score a chocolate “moonpie” at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater (6 Municipal Dr.) from noon to 5 p.m. All of these places will have free eclipse glasses, too. If you just want some great views, head to the party at Eagle Creek’s Earth Discovery Center (5901 Delong Rd.) from 1 to 3 p.m.. The festivities there are free with park admission.

Where should I go for the total-eclipse experience?

Eclipseville, a.k.a. Hopkinsville, Kentucky, will be the country’s unofficial solar headquarters, offering the best view of the eclipse for the longest time (two minutes and 41.2 seconds). Nashville is the largest city in the path of totality, and has loads of eclipse excitement planned, including an Italian Lights Festival featuring pasta, a meatball-eating competition, and insights from NASA scientists. If you aren’t crazy about the crowds, head to Patoka Lake in Southern Indiana, where you can soak in the view from a kayak—not a total eclipse, but at 98 percent, close enough.

How excited is our hometown astronaut, David Wolf ?

Dare we say he’s over the moon? “I can’t wait,” says Wolf, who logged 168 days outside Earth’s atmosphere over four missions. “A celestial event like this is as rare as launching into space. This is the kind of unique experience that you might see from a spacecraft. It’s so difficult to convey the unearthly-type feelings and views from space—that’s frustrating, and I call it the astronaut’s dilemma. This time, we all get to do it.”

It’s August 22—and I spaced it. Help!

What were you thinking? Well, mark your calendar for April 8, 2024, when Indy’s first total solar eclipse in 819 years will occur. Call the wait your path of moronity.

 

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