An eclipse, solar or lunar, isn’t a common event and a total solar eclipse is even rarer. When they do occur, much is made about them by the media, scientists, educators, and yes, pop singers. In 1983, Bonnie Tyler hit #1 on the Billboard charts with “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. Here in Columbus, the upcoming 2024 total eclipse even has its own logo!

In 2017, Columbus experienced a partial eclipse, but was outside the path of totality. This year, however, on April 8, 2024, we are in the path of totality – and will experience total darkness in the afternoon for nearly four minutes. It is an extremely rare occurrence, and we won’t see another one in the US until August 23, 2044. There will be another total solar eclipse visible in the US in 2045, but neither the 2044 nor the 2045 eclipse will be visible in Indiana. For people in this part of the country, this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view a total solar eclipse without traveling.

With literally hundreds of thousands of visitors expected locally to experience the phenomenon, extensive planning has been taking place behind the scenes. The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation realized the potential problems associated with the eclipse, especially having kids on buses in total darkness as schools would be dismissing for the afternoon. The onslaught of expected traffic in our area could impact the transfer of students going home.

The school corporation had previously scheduled March 28, 2024…the Thursday before Good Friday… as a professional development (PD) day for staff. But, given potential eclipse problems, BCSC decided to move the PD Day to April 8th and close school for students.

According to Brett Boezeman, Director of Operations for BCSC, they have been working with the city, state, and other government entities to plan for this rare occurrence. “We recognized early that with the heavy traffic expected, students returning home could be trapped in buses snarled in traffic. It is our responsibility to ensure parents that their children will arrive safely and on time at their destinations,” he explained. “With the eclipse, we could not guarantee anything, which is why we decided to close school,” he said.

Arrangements are being made as well for the teachers and staff expected to attend the scheduled Professional Development Day. “They would have the same problems, so we have decided to provide virtual instruction, allowing them to work remotely. We want everyone to be able to meet their work obligations without leaving home,” Boezeman explained.

Our neighbors to the south in Kentucky experienced the total eclipse in 2017. Former CNHS guidance counselors John and Mariane Hinds had some property in southern Indiana at the time of the last eclipse. They decided to make the trek to Kentucky to experience it.

Was it worth it? Is all the hype true?

“Given the chance, the eclipse is definitely something to experience, at least once in a lifetime,” said Mariane. “We chose to visit Hopkinsville, Kentucky, a little town much like Hope, Indiana. It was absolutely packed with people.”

John and Mariane Hinds in Hopkinsville, Kentucky for the 2017 Eclipse. Even their dog enjoyed the festivities!

John and Mariane had never been to an eclipse viewing so they were unaware of what to expect. They purchased their eclipse glasses for viewing, grabbed their dog to join them and headed south. They were amazed at the sheer numbers of people who had the same idea. “There were literally hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the world gathered. Information on the eclipse itself was available everywhere and souvenir stands lined the roadways.”

Then it happened. The skies began to darken until it seemed like nightfall was upon them. People were everywhere, many with telescopes and other viewing equipment. “The strangest part was the birds stopped singing. The eclipse affected Mother Nature in ways we didn’t anticipate,” Mariane explained.

As quickly as it began, it was over. The real challenge, dealing with the traffic, was about to get real. It was an experience not to be forgotten.

All total solar eclipses aren’t the same, and this year’s is setting up to be especially phenomenal, NASA says. “The eclipse in 2024 could be even more exciting due to differences in the path, timing, and scientific research,” NASA wrote on its web site.

During this year’s solar eclipse, the moon will be closer to Earth than it was during the 2017 event, further obscuring the sun’s rays and creating a wider path of totality. Instead of 62 to 71 miles during the 2017 eclipse, in 2024 the path of totality will be between 108 and 122 miles wide, according to NASA.

If you choose to view the solar eclipse, be sure to do so safely. Trying to see the eclipse without proper eye protection can be extremely dangerous. Check these safety tips Safety ( well in advance and make sure you have eclipse glasses that meet the highest standards.

The “afternoon of night” is coming. It will occur on April 8, 2024. Will you be a part of the festivities or stay home and avoid the hoopla?