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CCS school board to change 2024 spring break in view of total solar eclipse

Alan Huang

In anticipation of Carmel’s first total solar eclipse in 819 years, the CCS school board has adjusted next year’s spring break in light of the phenomenon on April 8, 2024. According to the 2023-24 school calendar, instead of having school on April 8, the Friday before spring break on March 29–when school is usually not in session–will be a regular school day. Superintendent Michael Beresford proposed the idea of changing the dates of the break.

Beresford said, “During a solar eclipse, there’s one sliver that goes to the entire nation where there is total darkness…And that line goes exactly through Carmel. We’ve been told between 500,000 and 2 million people will be in our community to watch or experience total darkness in the middle of the afternoon. We thought it would be better to just have that day off.”

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves in front of the sun, completely covering its surface, causing the sky to darken as if it were dawn or dusk. According to Hamilton County Visitors Bureau, the total solar eclipse should be visible at 3:06 p.m. and Carmel will experience totality for 3 minutes and 29 seconds, one of the cities in the United States with the longest totality duration.

Cherry Anamala, president of Planetarium Club and senior, said the Planetarium Club will set up a public solar viewing during the total eclipse.

Anamala said, “We recently acquired a solar telescope because we applied for the Carmel Education Foundation (CEF) Great Ideas grant, and we got it…We’re going to use this opportunity to spread the word about astronomy a little bit, get people excited about it and learn more about the sun.”

Additionally, planetarium director Keith Turner said the solar viewing would be an educational and fun opportunity for students.

“Another total solar eclipse is not going to happen for over 100 years through Carmel again,” he said. “So the solar viewing would be such a cool event, such an opportunity to teach about the sun and education that I hope that all the schools will do that so the kids can experience this phenomenon.”

Anamala said, “I think there are almost no downsides to (the spring break change) because we’re being informed about the changes ahead of time so people can shift their plans. And I’d much rather that everyone gets to experience the eclipse during a break instead of disrupting our school day.”

However, Beresford said there are safety precautions students should look out for.

“I think the most important thing is just that you have to keep roadways clear,” Beresford said. “The last time (we had a solar eclipse in the United States in 2017) drove from down South back to the Carmel Fishers area, there were actually signs on the highway that said, ‘Do not stop during a solar eclipse.’ I was traveling after it had already occurred, and when I stopped at the next gas station I went to, I asked, ‘Hey, what’s with the solar eclipse?’ They said, ‘Oh, that was there because they didn’t want people to stop on the highway and watch it.’ But, the signs didn’t work and everybody stopped, parked and they got out of their cars and they all stood there and watched it because it turned dark. So I do think that there will be a tendency of people to do that, but I think the most important thing is to keep roadways clear and open because there could be emergencies.”

Turner also said he experienced a traffic jam after an eclipse.

“It took us five hours to get to a place in Kentucky from Carmel. It took us 12 hours to get home because of the solar eclipse. They had signs set up saying, ‘Don’t pull over and don’t park.’ But people did anyway and that backed the traffic up for miles and miles. In fact, what I recommend to people is if you’re planning on staying home (for the eclipse), stay home and don’t plan on going out on the roads,” Turner said.

Moreover, it is dangerous to look directly at an eclipse that is not in totality. Anamala advised purchasing special glasses to view the sun.

Anamala said, “Don’t look at the sun without proper protection. If you don’t, the sun’s rays will damage your retinas. If you come to the (Planetarium Club) event, we will have some solar glasses as well so you can still view the sun relatively safely with the glasses we have.”

Overall, Beresford said, “Sometimes in life you have opportunities to experience things that won’t just be on video. You’ll actually be there, it’ll be happening and you’ll get to experience it. And I think those are moments you’ll remember for a long time.” 


To learn more about the CHS Planetarium, click here.

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