‘One of the coolest experiences of my entire life’: Visitors flock to Carmel to view total solar eclipse


A last-minute trip to Carmel for three Milwaukee residents did not disappoint.

Brian Nielson, Megan Kragenbrink and Matty Timmons were among hundreds of people who filled Civic Square April 8 to watch a total solar eclipse, which blanketed Carmel in midday darkness for 3 minutes and 29 seconds when the moon fully blocked the sun beginning at 3:06 p.m.

“When (totality) happened, you take your glasses off and it’s like this vibrant ring around a circle of black. I had no words. My mouth was just agape,” Timmons said. “That was one of the coolest experiences of my entire life.”

During totality, those watching the eclipse could remove their protective glasses to see the sun’s corona blazing around a darkened orb (normally the outermost layer of the sun’s atmosphere isn’t visible because of the light it constantly produces). At the same time, the air temperature dropped and colors changed hue.

“The curious thing for me was the muting of colors. All the bright colors just became so desaturated and dimmer as (totality) got closer,” Nielsen said. “It was wild to see everything become darker.”

Kragenbrink said she was struck by the lack of sound from the crowd during totality.

“The communal experience of everyone stopping talking, no one moving, everyone looking at the same thing,” she said. “It was eerily quiet with how many people were here.”

The three visitors decided to travel to Central Indiana to view the eclipse after learning that the area’s weather forecast looked promising for a good view of the eclipse. Light, hazy clouds stretched across the sky throughout the eclipse, which lasted from 1:50 to 4:24 p.m., but the cloud cover was not thick enough to obstruct views.

Nielsen, Kragenbrink and Timmons initially traveled to Kokomo to view the eclipse but decided midday to travel to Carmel, which experienced totality more than five times longer than in Kokomo. None of them had been to Carmel previously.

Alex Garbisch and Gabby Galvin traveled to Carmel from out of state for the eclipse viewing event. They said they liked the fact that the city offered real-time information from eclipse experts on site as well as live music before and after totality. The couple had no ties to Carmel beyond visiting for the eclipse, they said.

Galvin said she enjoyed the unifying effect of the eclipse for a large swath of the nation.

“I wish the United States could come together like this for more than just some science events,” she said.

The last time Hamilton County experienced a total solar eclipse was more than 800 years ago. The next total solar eclipse to sweep across the U.S. will be in 2045, but Indiana will not be in the path of totality. Hoosiers (and only those in the northern part of the state) will have to wait until 2099.