Come to Indiana to Watch the Total Eclipse of the Sun in 2024

‘The heavens declare the glory of God,’ says Psalm 19, ‘and the firmament proclaims the works of his hands’

‘Solar Eclipse’
‘Solar Eclipse’ (photo: sobinsergey84 / Shutterstock)

Seeing a total eclipse of the sun is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Many have seen a partial eclipse at some point, but it is unfortunate that the vast majority of people have never seen or will never see one of nature’s most wondrous spectacles — a total eclipse of the sun.

But on April 8, 2024, millions of Americans will be in the right place and right time to see the solar eclipse. The fully-eclipsed sun will cast the moon’s shadow, or the path of totality, as it sweeps at 1500 mph across Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Vermont and Maine.

As for me, I’ll be watching the eclipse at the Mother of the Redeemer Retreat Center just west of Bloomington, Indiana, as part of a Faith & Science Retreat Weekend — and I hope you’ll consider joining us.

The Retreat Weekend will be a “retreat” in the sense that it will offer us a chance to step back from our busy lives and reflect on our place in the cosmos — an opportunity to appreciate God’s creation of the earth, sun and moon. The weekend will also allow us to learn about the cutting-edge science that is being done under the auspices of the Church, via the Vatican Observatory and by other people of faith.

The topic of faith and science is one that always needs to be addressed lest we cede the discussion to those who are purely secular and who see a divide between the two. The presenters at this retreat will focus on presenting science to a non-professional audience in an understandable way that strengthens our faith in our Creator.

As an example of the Catholic Church’s commitment to science, many may be surprised to learn that the Pope has not one but two telescopes and that the second one is located in the U.S. The more famous papal telescope is found at Castel Gandolfo, and it dates back to the Gregorian reform of the Julian Calendar in A.D. 1582.

The U.S. telescope dates back to the 1980s when the Jesuit astronomers convinced Pope St. John Paul II to buy one due to the light pollution near Rome. It is called the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT). Its use is in a partnership with the University of Arizona, and it is located at Mount Graham, 70 miles northeast of Tucson.

Additionally, under the leadership of Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican Observatory Foundation hosts a five-day workshop — “Astronomy for Catholics in Ministry and Education” (ACME) — for priests, deacons and religious educators. I attended the inaugural workshop in January 2015, where we heard talks on various aspects of astronomy and from outside groups like the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which educates legislators on the effects of light pollution on wildlife, vegetation and the night sky.

(It is a sobering fact that 50% of children today will never see our galaxy, the Milky Way, overhead in the night sky. They will never see the beauty of a truly dark sky with the brilliance of thousands of stars. This is a cultural heritage that will be lost forever if we surrender thoughtlessly to the encroachment of light pollution.)

I invite you to join me and our Faith & Science Team for the weekend of April 5-8, 2024. Our team includes the director of the Vatican Observatory, and our keynote speaker, Brother Guy Consolmagno. Also from the Vatican Observatory are Dr. Chris Graney and Father James Kurzynski, a parish priest, amateur astro-photographer and the inspiration behind ACME.

We also have Father John Kartje, the rector of Mundelein Seminary, and two lay astronomers, Dr. Brenda Frye (University of Arizona) and Dr. Jeffrey Cooke (Swinburne University, Australia).

Where will you be next April 8? I hope you’ll be somewhere along the path of totality. Plan now and get yourself a pair of certified solar glasses. And if you’re interested in joining me — an amateur astronomer wannabe, science geek and parish priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Westville, Illinois — and the rest of the Faith & Science Team, please contact me at [email protected].

(By the way, the next total solar eclipse for Indianapolis will be on Oct. 17, 2153.)

Father James Kurzynski - Milky Way
The Milky Way as seen from the Redemptorist Retreat Center in Tucson, Arizona

 

Faith and Science Team Group Photo
Members of the Faith & Science Team attend a planning meeting at the Mother of the Redeemer Retreat Center in Bloomington, Indiana. From L to R: Father Timothy Sauppé, Jim Wade, Maggie Garst, Father Ignatius and Dr. Chris Graney.
Sunlight illuminates a tree in full bloom as New York City celebrates Earth Day at Governors Island on April 20, 2024 in New York City. Earth Day originally started in 1970 as a way to celebrate and raise awareness about environmental issues facing the planet.

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