Meet Madeline Shepley, a master’s student at Ball State University studying physics. Madeline’s fascination with the Universe began at a young age. As an adult, she has had the opportunity to engage in scientific research, create a planetarium show, and teach preschoolers and elementary school students about space.
Madeline Shepley works as a planetarium assistant at Ball State University’s Charles W. Brown Planetarium. In this role, Madeline is responsible for facilitating scientific, hands-on activities before planetarium shows, presenting school group shows, and helping with special projects such as creating a banner of Muncie solar eclipse history as well as writing and producing new planetarium shows.
A passion for science and education is clear in Madeline’s desire to pursue a career in planetariums and science communication. She recognizes that this career path integrates her strengths in science, interpersonal interaction, and creativity. Her current role as a planetarium assistant allows her to gain valuable experience in this field and to develop a diverse range of skills that will serve her well in the future.
An interest in solar eclipses led Madeline to apply for a Master’s fellowship with the Indiana Space Grant Consortium, which focuses on solar eclipse education and safety. Her goal is to educate people about the rarity of solar eclipse events and how to safely view them, as well as to create a greater appreciation for the world around us through science and astronomy. Madeline uses analogies and stories to break down complex concepts and make them more relatable for her audience, whether it be preschoolers or adults.
Having personally witnessed the magic of a total solar eclipse during the August 2017 solar eclipse, Madeline hopes to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of the universe similarly. With her passion for science, communication, and creativity, Madeline will make a positive impact in her future career and continue to educate and inspire others.
What is a Solar Eclipse?
Eclipses occur when one celestial body passes through the shadow of another celestial body. During a solar eclipse, the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, blocking all or part of the Sun for select viewers on Earth. There are three main types of solar eclipses: total, annular, and partial. In a total solar eclipse, the Moon covers the entire disk of the Sun, and viewers can watch without eclipse glasses during a time known as “totality.” During an annular solar eclipse, the Moon is farther away from Earth, making it appear smaller than the Sun and creating a ring around the Moon. During a partial solar eclipse, only part of the Sun appears to be covered by the Moon. All types of solar eclipses are dependent on the viewer’s location on Earth and are dynamic and evolving.
On April 8, 2024, Muncie, Indiana, will experience a total solar eclipse, which will be the first to be seen from the city since 957 CE. This eclipse will last for 3 minutes and 48 seconds and will envelop the city in deep twilight as the Moon hides the Sun. Following this event, Muncie residents will have to wait another 75 years to witness a similar experience without traveling far. Despite the fact that the 2099 solar eclipse will present more than 90% totality for Muncie, it is necessary to travel to a location such as Fort Wayne to observe true totality. Furthermore, it should be noted that the subsequent occurrence of a total solar eclipse in Muncie is projected to take place in the year 2505.