BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Skywatchers making their way to the solar eclipse’s path of totality April 8 in Bloomington will find an abundance of entertainment and celebrations to enjoy, including an inspirational, star-studded Hoosier Cosmic Celebration at Memorial Stadium from 1 to 5 p.m.
Ten-time Grammy Award-nominated singer, songwriter and actress Janelle Monáe headlines the show at Memorial Stadium. As one of the most celebrated artists of the modern era, Monáe is known worldwide for her genre-bending music that often explores themes of space and futurism and her critically acclaimed acting performances in films like “Glass Onion,” “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight.” Her latest album, “The Age of Pleasure,” was nominated for two Grammys, including Album of the Year and Best Progressive R&B Album. Monáe will take the stage immediately following the total eclipse, which occurs at 3:04 p.m. and will last for approximately four minutes.
Beloved actor William Shatner, an Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner best known for his role as Captain Kirk in “Star Trek,” will deliver a spoken-word performance before the total eclipse of the sun. In 2021, Shatner journeyed to space in real life at the invitation of Jeff Bezos. He became the oldest person to make the voyage, aboard Blue Origin’s second sub-orbital human spaceflight, Blue Origin NS-18. Shatner is also an accomplished singer, author and narrator.
Before Shatner’s performance, former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to travel to space, will also appear on stage to deliver remarks. Jemison served six years as a NASA astronaut and went to space aboard the shuttle Endeavor in 1992. She is a highly sought-after speaker on issues of health care, social responsibility, technology, education, STEM and motivation.
IU students and faculty will offer their talents during the eclipse programming at Memorial Stadium. The Marching Hundred will open the show, followed by a Broadway and pop tune performance by BFA students in the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance, led by IU faculty members DJ Gray, professor of practice in musical theatre dance, and Ray Fellman, professor and vocal instructor for musical theatre.
Prior to Jemison’s appearance, contemporary dancers Samiyah Lynnice and Corey Boatner, an IU alumnus, will perform “Minor Bodies,” a duet choreographed by Elizabeth Shea, professor and director of the Contemporary Dance Program.
Shatner’s spoken-word performance will be a collaboration with students and faculty from the Jacobs School of Music. It will include new original music written for the occasion by faculty member Dominick DiOrio, performed by student musicians from NOTUS, the Jacobs School’s internationally renowned contemporary vocal ensemble.
In addition to performances, eclipse revelers will have a chance to get an up-close look at an actual Blue Origin space capsule on April 8. The capsule will be reconstructed and available for students and visitors to tour at the south field goal line. Space simulations will be included.
Book signings from Mae Jemison and others, merch tables and more will be found in and around the stadium.
Tickets for the Hoosier Cosmic Celebration, starting at $15 for students and $19 for the general public, will be available on Ticketmaster at 10 a.m. Feb. 9.
Additional events planned across campus
The Memorial Stadium event is just one portion of the robust programming planned across IU Bloomington’s campus to celebrate the eclipse.
“For many people, an eclipse of this magnitude is a life-changing event all on its own,” said Ed Dallis-Comentale, assistant vice president for arts and humanities research at IU. “The IU Hoosier Cosmic Celebration brings the very best of the university — music, dance, film, ideas, culture and science — into the mix to create a historic experience for our community at large.”
People are invited to a lively celebration of the eclipse in Dunn Meadow from noon to 7 p.m., where programming will include student activities, food trucks and more.
Events centered on contemplation of the eclipse will take place in the Arboretum from noon to 4 p.m. Faculty and staff from various departments and centers will lead eclipse-related activities.
Evening events will take place as well, with IU Cinema hosting Shatner following his appearance at Memorial Stadium. A sold-out red-carpet screening of “William Shatner: You Can Call Me Bill,” the definitive documentary about the cultural icon, will take place at 8 p.m. at IU’s state-of-the-art movie theater. Shatner and the film’s director, Alexandre O. Philippe, are set to participate in a Q&A after the screening.
Celebrations continue as IU Concert Orchestra presents “The Planets — An HD Odyssey” at 8 p.m. at IU Auditorium. Conducted by Jeffery Meyer, professor of music and co-chair of the Department of Orchestral Conducting at the Jacobs School of Music, the orchestra will perform Holst’s beloved celestial work “The Planets,” accompanied by the visually spectacular HD Odyssey Series, featuring over 35 years of NASA images and video. The concert will also feature a Jacobs School of Music Violin Concerto Competition winner performing a romantic piece by Samuel Barber.
IU has been planning for the total solar eclipse since 2022 to ensure a safe environment for students, staff, faculty and visitors. The natural phenomenon is expected to bring around 300,000 visitors to Bloomington, which will create traffic and other logistical challenges in the hours leading up to and following the four minutes of totality. Additional safety information will be shared in the coming weeks.