I'm headed to Indiana to prove myself wrong about solar eclipses on April 8

Six jets in formation fly through a cloudy blue sky over a city's center square, a tall monument tower standing in the middle with building surrounding.
The Blue Angels fly over the center of Indianapolis, Indiana, May 12, 2020. (Image credit: Josh Dinner)

As a science journalist — nay, a space journalist — I have to be honest about something. It's a secret I haven't admitted to anyone yet; the first time this article is edited before publication will actually be the first time someone hears what I have to say. I'm honestly a little worried about the repercussions. Um, here I go.

I have never really cared much about solar eclipses. 

Or not in the way most space fans do, at least. Of course, I love the sun. I probably love the moon even more. Earth is also my favorite planet, as boring as that obviously is. Naturally, you'd probably expect that an event stringing the three together to form a surreal human experience would not only make me love eclipses, but make me a full-on eclipse-chaser. I mean, I have already dedicated my career to cataloging everything that happens with these three orbs. But, I don't know why, I have just never felt sad to miss a solar eclipse.

Related: Why I'm staying home for the April 8 solar eclipse

I definitely am in awe over the concept, as it forcibly reminds us that we're literally orbiting a star — but anyone who knows me well also knows I'm able to extract philosophical ideas to relish from anything cosmic. See here, here and here. So, why would a solar eclipse stand out? 

However, I will own up to the fact that, because of my eclipse nonchalance, I have never actually seen one. It's therefore highly possible my entire opinion on the topic is moot. Fortunately for anyone who just groaned at that, my eclipse-less life might change this year. 

I'm headed to Indianapolis to witness the 2024 total solar eclipse from the path of totality, and my mind is very open. Weather permitting, I should have one of the best seats out there, and I will absolutely try my hardest to soak it all in. I will be vigilant, and excited, and I am ready to write a follow-up apology article to everyone feeling angry right now with my take. Unfortunately, it's not looking like the weather will indeed "permit" on April 8. But that's its own problem.

I suppose I should also point out that I might have seen a solar eclipse when I was very young. I have a vague memory of standing on my front porch with my parents when my age was still in the single digits, genuinely believing that sunglasses were enough to shield my eyes from the sun. They were not, and still are not. Don't do that. That's about where my memory ends. I probably didn't get to see anything, because my parents likely told me to leave and go inside due to that, well, complication I was creating. It's also possible this memory wasn't a memory but rather a dream.

Clearly, we can only go up from there. 

I'm also quite interested in how watching the eclipse from the Indiana Motor Speedway might impact my experience. That's where I'll be stationed, with about 30,000 to 50,000 other spectators hailing from all 50 U.S. states and more than 26 different countries. I'm glad I'll be around lots of people because, all this time, I have connected to solar eclipses purely through the unity it brings to our world. Maybe because I have never felt attached to these events themselves, I have been searching for value in the effects they have on things I do feel attached to.

To that end, beyond the eclipse itself (which will only last a few minutes) I look forward to standing amid the eclipse fan club. Conjuring Michael Scott voice: I hope to be a part of it someday. Furthermore, there's an eclipse market I plan on perusing in the city, where local artisans will offer handmade, eclipse-related products. It also seems like various food and drink joints in the area are offering eclipse-themed refreshments, like some breweries with eclipse-inspired beer and restaurants with eclipse menus. There are also a few museum events, where scientists from NASA, for instance, will be speaking about the scientific importance of an eclipse and perhaps the data analysis that'll go on long after the moon finishes traveling the crosswalk between us and the sun.

That's all we're about to see, right? A bit of space traffic smoothly entangling, then detangling, in a mere particle of time? I don't know. I promise to report back when all has been said and done because I'll finally have empirical evidence to supplement my assumptions. Then, maybe I can peacefully live the rest of my life as either a true eclipse disciple, or a more substantiated eclipse hater.

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Monisha Ravisetti
Astronomy Channel Editor

Monisha Ravisetti is Space.com's Astronomy Editor. She covers black holes, star explosions, gravitational waves, exoplanet discoveries and other enigmas hidden across the fabric of space and time. Previously, she was a science writer at CNET, and before that, reported for The Academic Times. Prior to becoming a writer, she was an immunology researcher at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. She graduated from New York University in 2018 with a B.A. in philosophy, physics and chemistry. She spends too much time playing online chess. Her favorite planet is Earth.