VU gears up to host Total Eclipse of the Heartland in 2024

Students and professors standing outside Updike Hall and watching the 2017 eclipse.

December 15, 2023

Updated: 4/2/24

VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University is excited to play host to a celestial spectacle during the total solar eclipse in Vincennes, Indiana, on April 8, 2024. Recognizing the rarity and significance of this astronomical event, VU is gearing up to host Total Eclipse of the Heartland, a unique and unforgettable experience for the University Community and visitors alike.

The Vincennes Campus will be a hub of excitement with a series of FREE events, educational programs, and festivities designed to engage participants of all ages. 

“As we prepare to host captivating events during the total solar eclipse, we are embracing the extraordinary opportunity to create an atmosphere where the convergence of science and wonder make the total solar eclipse a truly unforgettable experience for all who gather on campus,” VU College of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Dean Curt Coffman said.

With the longest darkness in the state of Indiana at four minutes and five seconds, Vincennes is poised to be a prime destination for skygazers and astronomy enthusiasts for the “Great North American Eclipse.” 

As a location along the path of totality, VU will provide a front-row seat to the universe's wonders, where the moon passes between the sun and earth, completely obscuring the sun. From expert-led discussions on the science behind solar eclipses to family-friendly activities and viewing parties, VU is committed to creating an inclusive and enriching environment that allows everyone to marvel at the wonders of the cosmos. The eclipse begins in Vincennes at 1:46 p.m. (ET), with maximum coverage at 3:04 p.m. and ends at 4:20 p.m.

In an update to an October announcement, VU announced on April 3, 2024, that it will now be closed ALL DAY on Monday, April 8, including all offices and classes at all locations.

Originally, VU announced that the University (all locations) and all classes would close at noon local time that day, but we have continually monitored the situation, given the many factors that could impact that day.

Recently, Governor Holcomb signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in anticipation of the influx of eclipse watchers and the potential impact on emergency services.  In addition, though there is still significant variation in forecasts, weather conditions in Indiana appear to provide at least some potential for visibility during the period of totality, increasing the likelihood that traffic will be heavy.

In order to allow all members of the VU community the opportunity to participate in eclipse activities, VU will observe the following schedule on April 8, 2024:

  • All offices close at all locations.

  • Employees who have been advised by their supervisors to work that day for essential operations and/or special activities will be given applicable comp time (within the pay period) or overtime pay to offset the hours they work on Monday the 8th.

  • Classes will not meet on that day.

Though we will not be officially open during the day, except for essential operations, including residence halls and dining, all faculty, staff, and students are still encouraged to participate in the many VU activities leading up to the eclipse.

  • On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, VU will host “ Experiencing Totality - The Great Total Eclipse of 2024” at 11 a.m. (ET) and 6:30 p.m. (ET) in the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center, 20 Red Skelton Blvd. Retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak will discuss what it is like to experience a total eclipse of the sun and share eyewitness accounts of totality from great astronomers of the past and recent experiences. The speaker will also highlight maps and weather prospects along the eclipse path.
  • On Sunday, April 7, 2024, The Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast (DEB) Initiative will feature Dr. Jonathan Mangin at Jefferson Student Union, 1401 N. Chestnut St., at 2:30 p.m. (ET) During the presentation, Mangin will explain this project and the measurements he will take from the roof of VU’s Updike Hall Center for Science, Engineering and Mathematics on the day of the eclipse.
  • On Sunday, April 7, 2024, Laughter Before Darkness will occur at the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy at 4 p.m. (ET). The family-friendly eclipse-themed event will feature a puppeteer, a magician, and a mime at the museum, 20 Red Skelton Blvd. The event costs $10 per person or $25 per household.
  • On Monday, April 8, 2024, the campus is hosting an eclipse party for VU students. More details to come.
  • On Monday, April 8, 2024, the public is invited to view the eclipse on the Vincennes Campus from noon-5 p.m. (ET) at the VU Track and Field Complex, located on the corner of Chestnut St. and Red Skelton Blvd., and Kimmell Park, situated between Oliphant Drive and the Wabash River. FREE PARKING will be available in lots on Red Skelton Blvd., along the west side of Oliphant Drive, and adjacent to Kimmell Park. Kimmell Park will be pedestrian-only, with the exception of vehicles with boats using the public access site. Public and portable restrooms will be available at each location. Most VU buildings will not be open to the public.

Join VU as we come together to witness this awe-inspiring phenomenon and make lasting memories under the celestial canvas. It will be the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States until 2044.

For more information,

The photo above, with Curt Coffman in the center, was taken on the Vincennes Campus near Updike Hall during the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.

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