Notes from the Dark Side

April 17, 2023

Eclipse Newsletter 4/17/2023

Notes from the Darkside

It’s been a few years since our area has experienced anything like what is headed our way on April 8th, 2024. Or more like a few hundred years–the last time our area experienced totality during a solar eclipse was way back in 1205, when Genghis Khan was being a total jerk to everyone around him but especially in China. It’s not that solar eclipses are all that rare–it's just that our neck of the woods hasn’t been covered with totality since then. You may recall that while we were on the path of the eclipse in 2017, we did not experience totality. If you’ve never experienced it, you may find all of the hoopla to be an annoyance at best and downright aggravating at worst. But here’s the thing: bothersome or not, our location has us marked right smack in the middle of the line of totality. So what’s the big deal? 

The big deal is this: eclipse chasers and hobbyist sky-gazers love totality. I love totality, and I only experienced it a few years ago in Southern Illinois. It’s a shocking, slow turn of events; an eerie reminder of our own smallness, and a humbling observation of this particular celestial dance. 

It is so humbling, in fact, that upwards of 50 to 100,000 people may travel to our area to crane their necks to the sky and gasp in wonder (while wearing the appropriate eyewear, of course). 

That’s an awful lot of people. 

And that’s why you’re hearing from me now–I’m the new Eclipse Director, which sounds funny to say, because there was no prior Eclipse Director. In partnership with Knox County and the City of Vincennes, I’m here to help organize, facilitate and manage this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we’ve been given. 

For farmers and property owners out in the county, there are a few early considerations. Are you interested in allowing the public access to your land as a viewing area? What about camping? Plenty of people would be happy to hand over some money to flop down on your back forty for a few nights, but you’d better have a plan for sewage, trash and traffic. Or maybe you’d rather not participate at all–-best to have a plan in place beyond just purple paint and “no trespassing” signs. Let’s say you mark your fields and roads as off-limits–-but some starry-eyed sky gazer gets hung up and tears up the winter wheat that had just started to emerge. Maybe you’ve got just the right spot for a few RVs to pull up and camp for a few days. Will you allow campfires or outdoor grilling? What about pets, firearms and off road vehicles? 

On the one hand, an influx of out-of-town visitors is a small-town dream come true. On the other, if we’re not prepared, we may miss the big show in the sky. 

Granted, we all know that weather has a bigger say in these events than all of our best laid plans. As always, those who work the land know better than anyone that sometimes Mother Nature will simply do as she pleases. So, we will do our best to plan and hope for clear skies next April 8, 2024. 

Happy Eclipse!