March 04, 2024

Preparing for the Total Solar Eclipse 2024

By Danielle A., Youth Services Librarian

sun rising over mountains at the garden of the gods

Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest by Asif A. Ali

In 2017, I was living in Springfield, IL, only about three hours away from where the total solar eclipse would take place. I called my dad and asked him if he’d come down from Indy to drive with me to see the total eclipse. I didn’t want to see a partial eclipse. If I was going to see it, I wanted the full shebang. We drove to the Garden of the Gods near Herod, IL, a beautiful park full of giant rocks that are perfect for climbing and sitting atop.

Man standing on rock in the forest showing a peace sign.

My dad at Garden of the Gods after the total eclipse.

The atmosphere was electric. People were packed tightly together, their anticipation palpable. Most of us had no idea what was about to happen. The sun was about to be blocked out, but what was so special about that? I cannot describe in words how magical that moment was – you simply had to be there. As the moon completely covered the sun, it became pitch black and completely silent. It was as if everyone, including the animals, were unsure how to react. Then, all of a sudden, everyone started to howl at the moon. The eclipse lasted just over two minutes, but those minutes were truly wondrous.

The next total solar eclipse will be on April 8, 2024. Are you as excited as I am? It will pass over Indianapolis at 3:06:32PM for 3:38 minutes. This means I don’t have to drive three hours there and six hours back (the traffic was atrocious!). This will be the last total eclipse visible from the United States until 2044, which will be in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

WHAT IS THE SOLAR ECLIPSE?

In a solar eclipse, the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth. This prevents the Sun’s light from reaching Earth. The Moon’s shadow will sweep across Earth, gradually making the sky darker. In some areas, such as Dallas, Texas, it will just be a shadow, called a partial eclipse.

total eclipse umbra diagram

Umbra – Pearson Scott Foresman Archives

If you’re lucky, like us in the Hamilton County area, you’ll be in a location where we’ll experience a total eclipse, meaning it will be completely dark for those 3:38 minutes. The only light that you’ll see will be what looks like a ring of fire around the Moon. This is the Sun’s corona or the gases surrounding the Sun. A lot of factors must line up just right to have a total eclipse. A full Moon must be at the exact right angle to block the Sun, narrowing the area that will have a total eclipse to a marginal area.

SOLAR ECLIPSE SAFETY

While the total eclipse is super exciting and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, unless you’re a world-trotting adventurer, precautions need to be taken to be safe, as staring directly at the sun can cause solar retinopathy.

Woman in red solar eclipse glasses.

Your favorite librarian, me, rocking my certified eclipse glasses in 2017!

Hopefully, you partook in our Winter Reading Program and earned a pair of certified eclipse glasses! If not, please investigate getting a pair and ensure that they do not have any scratches on them before using them to look directly at the sun.

If you aren’t interested in wearing special glasses, that’s okay! There are other ways to safely view the eclipse, such as building your own eclipse viewer, like we’ll be doing on March 7 at our Noblesville branch. Or, you could use a sun spotter, which you can view the sun through at our Celestial Parties!


SOLAR ECLIPSE PROGRAMS

Build Your Own Eclipse Viewer: For ages 9-11
Thursday, March 7 | 3-4 pm | Noblesville Library

Celestial Party: For families
Monday, March 11 | 3-4:30 pm | Fishers Library
Thursday, March 21 | 3-4:30 pm | Noblesville Library

Sun Moon Earth: A Virtual Author Talk with Tyler Nordgren: For adults
Saturday, March 23 | 11 am-12 pm | Virtual

Crafty Teens: Button Moons: For teens
Monday, April 1 | 5:30-7 pm | Noblesville Library
Wednesday, April 10 | 5:30-7 pm | Fishers Library

Get the Hubble Back! Teen Breakout Room: For teens
Friday, April 5 | 2-3 pm | Fishers Library
Friday, April 5 | 3:30-4:30 pm | Fishers Library

Art Lab: Eclipse Prints: For all ages
Wednesday, April 3 | 11 am-1 pm | Ignite Studio at Fishers Library
Saturday, April 6 | 2-4 pm | Ignite Studio at Fishers Library

PSA – The Hamilton East Public Library will be closed on April 8, the day of the solar eclipse.


SOLAR ECLIPSE RESOURCES

Want to learn more about the solar eclipse? Check out these resources:

Children’s Books

Eclipse Chaser- Science in the Moon’s Shadow by Ilima Loomis
Eclipse Chaser: Science in the Moon’s Shadow by Ilima Loomis

When the Sun Goes Dark by Andrew Fraknoi
When the Sun Goes Dark by Andrew Fraknoi

The Sun by Christina Leaf
The Sun by Christina Leaf

Looking Up! The Science of Star Gazing by Joe Rao
Looking Up! The Science of Star Gazing by Joe Rao

Adult Books

Totality- the Great American Eclipses of 2017 and 2024 by Mark Littmann
Totality: the Great American Eclipses of 2017 and 2024 by Mark Littmann

Totality- Eclipses of the Sun by Mark Littmann
Totality: Eclipses of the Sun by Mark Littmann

Phenomenal- A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World by Leigh Ann Henion
Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World by Leigh Ann Henion

Sun, Moon, Earth- The History of Solar Eclipses, From Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets by Tyler Nordgren
Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses, From Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets by Tyler Nordgren

Astronomy for Dummies by Stephen Maran
Astronomy for Dummies by Stephen Maran

Websites

National Solar Observatory
Eclipse2024.org
NASA Science
Hamilton County Tourism