Everything you need to know about the 2024 total solar eclipse in Bloomington, Indiana

A solar eclipse seen in Salloum, Egypt Wednesday, March 29, 2006. Folklore troupes played popular Egyptian music in the town of Salloum on the Libyan border as some 8,000 tourists watched the phenomenon. (AP Photo/Nasser Nouri)

What many people are calling a once-in-a-lifetime event for people living in North America will happen the afternoon of April 8.

It's being called the Great North American Solar Eclipse and it will be the last total solar eclipse in Indiana until 2099. Many parts of the state, from Vincennes to Bloomington to Indianapolis and Fort Wayne will be in the path of totality, experiencing darkness during the day when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth.

Why is the 2024 solar eclipse a big deal?

Total solar eclipses happen about every 18 months, but the 2024 total solar eclipse has some important differences from the one visible in parts of the U.S. in August 2017. (Bloomington did not fall within the path where the total eclipse could be seen in 2017.)

The upcoming eclipse will be when the Sun's activity is near its peak; in 2017, the Sun was approaching minimum activity as the eclipse occurred. The eclipse allows scientists to see the Sun's corona and this time there should be lots to study. Also, the 2024 eclipse will be viewable in more of the U.S., with more than 31 million people living within the path of totality and many thousands more people able to travel to a place where they can watch.

Also, the next solar eclipse on Aug. 23, 2044, will be visible only from northern areas of the continental U.S. including Montana.

What will happen during 2024 eclipse in Bloomington?

The skies over Bloomington will darken beginning at 1:49 p.m. April 8 with sunshine being totally blotted out for 4 minutes, 3 seconds beginning at 3:04 p.m. The Bloomington area will have one of the longer times of darkness, which means if the skies are clear, thousands of people are expected to converge in the area to witness the event.

How will the darkness of the eclipse affect Bloomington?

During the afternoon, when people expect sunlight they will instead have darkening skies similar to dusk leading to total darkness as the Moon blocks out all light from the Sun. Nightlights will turn on, animals active during the day will settle down like they do at night while nocturnal animals will stir. People driving vehicles will have to turn on their headlights.

How many people are expected to come to the area to watch the eclipse?

While no firm numbers can be given, estimates from emergency management and other officials range between 150,000 and 500,000 people may come to the area for the event, which will happen on a Monday. Officials anticipate people will be gathering the weekend before the event. If Bloomington's skies are clear, more people are expected to be staying in hotels and attending local events. If there are clouds obstructing the Sun, many people will probably travel elsewhere to watch the eclipse.

How to watch the eclipse safely

Special solar viewers or glasses are needed to look at the Sun while the Moon moves into the Sun's path and then away. Anyone who does not use the protective glasses will harm their eyesight. WonderLab and Wild Birds Unlimited, Indiana University, and many other stores and online sites are selling the protective eyewear.

Where can people watch the 2024 eclipse?

Anyone can step outside and watch the total solar eclipse from their yard. There are many events scheduled, from activities at the Monroe County Fairgrounds and Indiana University Memorial Stadium to Lake Lemon, Lake Monroe and most wineries. WonderLab and the area state parks and reservoirs also have events planned. Many events begin days before the eclipse.

Links to detailed information about events will be added here. Bookmark this page for future reference.

On campus: Janelle Monae, William Shatner, Mae Jemison headline 2024 eclipse event at Indiana University

Will schools be open during the April 8 eclipse?

Both Monroe County Community and Richland-Bean Blossom school corporations will be closed on April 8. Harmony School is also closed. All campuses of Indiana University, including in Bloomington, will be closed as well.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Total eclipse 2024: April 8 event will darken Bloomington skies