Make your home page

Why you should pay attention to the ground during 2024 solar eclipse

Eclipse phenomenon on the ground

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — During a solar eclipse, it is no surprise that most people will have their eyes on the skies with the protection of solar eclipse glasses.

Something you may want to pay attention to is the ground during the solar eclipse in central Indiana on April 8.

Shadow bands

“Look for something called shadow bands, which I saw for the first time in 2017. It’s like you have snakes crawling everywhere,” says Brian Murphy, a professor of astronomy and physics at Butler University.

This phenomenon will appear as the eclipse is getting very near totality. They appear within 15 seconds to 1 minute before and after totality if the skies are clear. Shadow bands are very tough to photograph and are similar to the twinkling effect we see with stars.

You will notice the contrast in light on anything uniform in color, like a blank piece of white paper.

Crescent shadows

Tiny spaces between objects like tree leaves create a pinhole effect which projects the ongoing eclipse. On days with clear skies, these crescent shadows will be much easier to pick out. Be sure to look for this before and after the total eclipse.

Murphy emphasized, “You can poke holes in a piece of paper and spell your name out, and you will get it all in crescents down on the ground. … So there is all of these cool things you can do. You don’t necessarily need leaves.”

If you do not have a pair of solar eclipse glasses, poking holes in a piece of paper will be a great alternative to seeing how close we are to totality.

A kitchen strainer is another cool way to see these crescent shadows.

Crescent shadows using a kitchen strainer. (Provided Photo/NASA)

Butler University will host its free, public Eclipse Festival from noon-4:30 p.m. April 8. The event will feature more than a dozen telescopes with solar filters, as well as glasses to safely view the eclipse.