What is the total solar eclipse?

(This blog is meant for Visit Bloomington partners in hopes that it will help you plan for one of the largest tourism events to ever occur in the state of Indiana.)   

A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun with the sky darkening as if it were dawn or dusk. Solar eclipses do occur every year at various locations on Earth, but they are considered a rare sight because they are only visible from a very narrow path. Total solar eclipses are rarer because their viewing area is even smaller. You can read more about the science of eclipses at NASA's solar system website.

When is it?

On Monday, April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will occur over North America, traveling across the United States from Texas to Maine. Bloomington, Indiana is directly in the center of the path of totality and will be one of the best viewing eclipse locations in the world. The duration of totality in Bloomington will be approximately four minutes and two seconds, beginning around 3:04 PM EST. This means the sun will become almost completely dark for this brief duration in the middle of the day.

A total solar eclipse was last visible in the mainland United States in August 2017 and prior to that it was February 1979. On average it can take nearly 400 years for a total solar eclipse to happen again at the same location. The last time a total solar eclipse took place in Bloomington, Indiana was 1869 and you can read more about that in this fascinating Indiana University and solar eclipses story.

What do we expect to happen in Monroe County?

It's incredibly unpredictable, but based upon our location directly in the center of the path of totality and the number of people who traveled to see the 2017 total solar eclipse, we are preparing for more than 150,000 visitors to come to the Bloomington area to experience the eclipse. These visitors will arrive in the area up to a few days before the event and they will most likely leave the area directly after it.

Retail shops, grocery stores, restaurants, lodging facilities, gas stations, and all types of businesses will be extremely busy and public services and safety need to be ready for the large crowds.

Are you going to be open that day? Are you open for people to watch the eclipse from your establishment? Can people park on your property? Can they use your restrooms? Do you have a plan for your employees and their work schedules? What is the exit plan for visitors and employees? Are you ordering extra supplies in advance? Will your car's gas tank be full? Are your friends and family ready?  

The eclipse takes place on a Monday -- is your business planning to be open that day?

Most area schools will be closed on Monday, April 8 because of the eclipse. Please be sure to notify your customers of your business plans well in advance. If you are planning any special eclipse restaurant menu items or eclipse promotions, please e-mail that information to Teal Strabbing and we will share that information if appropriate. You can enter promotional information on our website anytime here in our special offers section.  

Where can people watch it?

As of September 2023, there are already several eclipse watching events planned to take place in the Monroe County, Indiana area on or around April 8, 2024. Butler Winery, Fowler Pumpkin Patch, Indiana University, Monroe Lake/Paynetown SRA,  Lake Lemon/Riddle Point Park, Oliver Winery, Switchyard Park, Starlite Drive-In, and Wonderlab Museum are among those that have announced eclipse events. Please enter your eclipse event here if you plan to host something.