Eclipse set to be “once in 10 lifetimes” event


The shadow of the moon will move across Indiana at Mach 3 — or 2,310 mph —  in just a few days. When it does, experts say residents should take notice.

Gregory McCauley, CEO of Grand Universe in Westfield, said his goal is to make sure Westfield and Hamilton County residents have a true understanding of the history about to be made in central Indiana.

“To have a total eclipse happen at your house, in our town, is extremely rare,” McCauley said. “It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s a once-in-10-lifetimes thing.”

McCauley said the 2017 partial eclipse gave the region a unique opportunity to see how the event affected tourism and gave local leaders an advantage in planning accordingly.

“This eclipse is set to be the largest tourist event in Indiana’s history,” he said.

MCauley said the event is more than a tourist attraction. During the total eclipse, the corona of the sun — the highly charged plasma that is omitted by the sun — will be visible. The corona is only visible during totality, and the results are unlike anything viewable during a partial eclipse.

Things visible during totality include:

  • Wavering dark lines will shimmer across the landscape. These are shadow bands that produce an effect similar to looking at the bottom of a swimming pool.
  • Animals that do not have an internal clock, but rather rise and rest with the sunrise and sunset, will act as if the sun has gone down. That means birds will come to roost and insects will begin chirping.
  • Temperatures can drop nearly 10 degrees, and dew may form on the grass. There may also be a change in wind direction.
  • Shadows made by trees and other objects cause a pinhole effect, creating thousands of miniature eclipses along the ground.
  • The colors of sunrise will be visible in a 360-degree ring.
  • Colors will appear different in the light of the sun’s corona, which will make grass appear gray.
  • The sun will appear as a jet-black hole in the sky surrounded by a glowing ring of purple fire.

McCauley said the event is likely to produce an emotional response in many viewers.

“It’s absolutely amazing, it’s a spiritual thing,” he said.

McCauley said the viewing event in Grand Park in Westfield will be one of the best places to see the eclipse because of the unobstructed views of the horizon which will allow those at the park to see the 360-degree view of eclipse-produced sunrise.

“When it goes dark for those three minutes and 20 seconds, Jupiter will come out, Venus will be (visible) as long as we have clear skies, and that sunrise is just a spectacular thing,” McCauley said.

He also said people who are looking up — it’s safe to look at the eclipse with the naked eye during totality — should resist the urge to take photos.

“Don’t fiddle around with your camera. You’ll miss this,” McCauley said. “No matter how good of a picture you take, it’s like taking a picture of the Grand Canyon and trying to explain it to your friends. You can’t. A picture doesn’t even come close to doing this justice. Just stand there and take in the event.”

As the eclipse approaches, health officials in Hamilton County are stressing the importance of eye safety to avoid long-term damage from the celestial event.

“Everyone should wear solar viewing glasses with ISO 12312-2 throughout the event,” stated Jim Ginder, health education specialist at the Hamilton County Health Department. “Viewing the partial phases of the eclipse with the naked eye can result in serious eye damage, including retinal burns.”

Regular sunglasses do not offer proper eye protection during the eclipse. Symptoms of retinal burns include loss of central vision, distorted vision, altered color vision, blind spots and increased sensitivity to light. Symptoms can occur anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after exposure. Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Health officials also warn that traffic congestion during the total solar eclipse could slow emergency response teams and encouraged those attending events to pack emergency supplies and first aid kits, including rescue medications.

Learn more about eclipse preparations at

Reserve a $25 parking spot in Grand Park April 8 at the ticket link at