Local News

Total solar eclipse viewing events could double Shelby County's population

The April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse could double the population of Shelby County.

Shelbyville and Shelby County will experience nearly four minutes of “totality” that Monday in early April which has city and county leaders in full preparation mode for an onslaught of eclipse enthusiasts.

On Wednesday at the Shelby County Courthouse Annex, a community eclipse meeting was held to inform area businesses and residents what to expect in the days leading up to the solar eclipse, where the moon will completely block out the sun, creating darkness in the mid-afternoon.

“The reason not everyone can see totality is because of the relative size of the moon compared to the sun,” explained Cyrus Screwvala, an Ivy Tech Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Physics, to the large crowd in attendance. “The shadow of the moon isn’t big enough to engulf the entire part so only certain places get to see totality which is why what will happen in April (in Shelby County) is so special.”



The eclipse will cross southern Indiana from the southwest to the northeast and include such communities as Linton, Bloomington, Indianapolis, Muncie, New Castle and Connersville as well as Shelbyville.

The timeline presented Wednesday has the start of the partial eclipse at 1:50 p.m. The start of the total eclipse will occur at 3:06 p.m. The maximum effect of the eclipse will be at 3:08 p.m. with the end of the total eclipse two minutes later at 3:10 p.m.

Still nearly seven months from the event, all hotels in Shelbyville are sold out. And the Shelby County Fairgrounds has been rented by a group from Napierville, Illinois, that will be bringing astronomy equipment to view the eclipse.

The last total eclipse in this part of the United States came in 2017. City officials have been in contact with counterparts in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which experienced totality that year.

Preparations are being made for tens of thousands of visitors to Shelbyville and Shelby County the weekend before the eclipse. Rachel Ackley, Executive Director of the Shelby County Tourism & Visitors Bureau believes that estimation will reach upward of 50,000 visitors which would double Shelby County’s population.

By comparison, nearby Johnson County is preparing for one million visitors. Hamilton County on the northeast side of Indianapolis is estimating up to 1.5 million visitors.

The celestial event offers local residents an opportunity to host visitors but to do so comes with cautionary tales. Security and restroom facilities are encouraged for large viewing parties but many of those services are already booked up.

Residents in attendance Wednesday also were encouraged to look into event insurance in case of incidents surrounding the viewing of the event.

A website has been created to provide local information and answer questions about the eclipse. That website can be found at www.eclipseinshelbycountyin.com.

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