Apr 9, 2024 - News

The good, the bad and the unexpected moments from Indianapolis' total solar eclipse

Two people wearing eclipse glasses looking up

Tiffany Bloomfield and Eric Pueschel traveled from Wisconsin for their second totality experience. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

What a day, Indy.

The collective experience of everyone looking toward the sky as darkness fell, cheering as we entered totality and then marveling at what we were all witnessing together — strangers no more — is something that will stick with us forever.

Here's what else we noticed during Indy's day in the dark:

The good

☀️ Perfect weather!

🤓 A huge crowd at White River State Park was excited and friendly — "like Woodstock for nerds," said Eric Pueschel, who was visiting from Madison, Wisconsin, with Tiffany Bloomfield.

  • They experienced totality during the 2017 eclipse in Carbondale, Illinois, and "got hooked."
  • They said the viewing experience at the Indy event was even better than the first, praising the city for how well-organized everything was.

😴 People napping in the shade of flowering trees along the river, waiting for the eclipse to start.

🛶 Frank's Livery offered kayak rentals to watch the eclipse from the White River.

  • Another water option: swan boats on the canal.

👕 Jeremy and Phoebe Anderson, father and daughter who drove down from Minneapolis, wearing matching custom shirts that said "I got mooned" along with Indianapolis and the date.

  • "Some family members saw the total eclipse in 2017 in Nebraska and have been raving about it ever since," Jeremy Anderson said.

🥼 Lots of scientists and eclipse experts were on hand in Hamilton County to provide interesting facts about the different stages of the eclipse as they happened.

🔭 David Ryan, president of the Calumet Astronomical Society, made the trip from Hammond to take in the eclipse in Carmel and set up telescopes outside Hotel Carmichael to give people a peak eclipse experience.

  • "We saw the prominences at totality. We saw Jupiter and Venus … this was a total experience. Sounds, feeling, everything."

❤️ The emotion. When totality arrived, folks watching at Carter Green in Carmel broke out in loud applause before falling into complete silence.

  • Looking around the crowd, loved ones were holding each other tight and some people were crying.

The bad

🐶 The mean old Moon scared poor Maddie, a rescue dog from Chicago, who cried and howled during totality.

  • She was visiting with her paw-rents, Earl and Sisie Wilson, who said she's afraid of thunderstorms, too.

⌚ Lines at the many food trucks at White River State Park were outta this world: Over 40 minutes to order and nearly just as long to get your food.

🤳 The sheer number of people still glued to their phones before, during and after totality. Clearly they didn't listen to Bill Nye's advice.

🛑 The sound of a concerned parent yelling, "No, don't!" as a child tries to look at the Sun after totality comes to an end.

💡The automatic street and house lights that turned on as darkness took over.

Eclipse watchers with tinfoil hats
In Carmel, eclipse watchers protect their eyes from the Sun and their brains from extraterrestrial life forms. Photo: Justin L. Mack/Axios

The unexpected

🦩 The Indianapolis Zoo reported many of their animals exhibited night-time behavior as darkness descended Monday afternoon.

  • Macaws, budgies and other birds got quiet and roosted up high.
  • Flamingos huddled together and got quiet.
  • Cheetahs paced the highest point of their grassy yard and warthogs huddled near their back gate, normal evening behaviors.

👽 A crew of about a dozen eclipse watchers in Carmel wore tinfoil hats while sipping beer in lawn chairs in front of Hotel Carmichael's Monon Trail entrance.

  • Jenny Winn of Indianapolis was the mastermind behind the headgear, and she had lots of extra tinfoil on hand to craft hats that were "locally sourced and made fresh to order" for anyone who asked.
  • "It's fun to be quirky," she said. "That's my thing. Have fun, and always have alien protection."

🌡️ The temperature drop during totality. Brr!

🕺🏻 Some of the dance moves happening at the Carmel Gazebo as a band played a medley of covers post-totality. Maybe some of those moves looked better in total darkness.

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