From the President's Desk

From the President’s Desk: Looking at life through solar-viewing glasses

On a Saturday morning last fall, I awoke in Jackson, Mississippi, with a thrill of excitement. Not just because that day was the 80th anniversary of the Mississippi River Basin Model (to find out what the heck that is, check this out) but because I was lucky enough to be in the shadow of a partial solar eclipse.

I rolled up the hotel window shade and gasped – the sky was completely free of clouds, and from my room, I could see the hotel’s outdoor patio basked in full, direct sunlight. A PERFECT eclipse-viewing spot! I’m no astronomy nerd, but I had packed my ISO 12312-2-rated eclipse-viewing glasses (for safe solar viewing), my backup ISO 12312-2-rated eclipse-viewing glasses, and a takeout lunch, so I was ready to head downstairs.

I first got into eclipse-watching in 2017 when my cousins Marc and Mike brought me to the Nashville area to watch a total eclipse. The universe had put in the exact right amount of effort: the eclipse occurred on my birthday! Marc is a radio astronomer with the University of Maryland, so we got to spend the three days leading up to the eclipse finding the best place to watch, reviewing accessibility, visibility, weather patterns, and likely crowds. We found a little park a few hours outside of Nashville, laying back on a blanket as the world went dark around us in the middle of the day.

Ever since then, I have been keen on seeing another eclipse. The partial in Jackson was great….. but I’m even more thrilled about the total eclipse coming directly across Indianapolis on April 8, 2024!

Chris Snyder, Vice President and Aviation Market Director with Woolpert , has helped agencies and airports plan for the upcoming 2024 eclipse in Indiana. With his experience helping the City of Indianapolis prepare for the XLVI Super Bowl in 2012, Chris knows a thing or two about BIG events. At Aviation Indiana’s 2023 annual conference, I got the chance to ask him just how big of a deal the upcoming total eclipse might be.

“We’re seeing a lot of people make plans,” he said. “It might be about half a million people, many of them coming in and leaving over a very short window.” In describing the day, he noted, “People may even pull over by the side of the road to capture this monumental event.” It turns out, many area schools are even planned to close on April 8.

This Aug 21, 2017 shot of Google Maps shows the kind of commitment we might expect this year – a traffic jam in every city along the path of totality.

Back in Jackson, as I watched the sphere of the moon drift in front of the sun, I was surprised to see I was the only one gazing at the sky. At the new hotel next door, with little more than steel framing and concrete-block stairwells, the builders went about their business even as daylight seemed to wane. The kids running around the putt-putt course next door broke into the Macarena despite the air taking on an unusual chill for noon in Mississippi. Cars sped by on the road in front of the hotel; no one pulled over, no one looked up.

The 2024 total eclipse is scheduled to be a packed event, with all necks craned toward the sky. But is it because of the media attention? The hype? Do we only care about “totality” and feel uninterested in anything less than perfect?

Last fall, I watched the moon blot out most of the sun – and no one looked skyward. This prompts the question: what might be happening in your life that you’re not seeing? What major undercurrents may be whooshing by you, too time-consuming or too dull to be observed? And, what can you do to notice them?

An eclipse can be observed with just a special pair of viewing glasses. If you look around your world with a set of new lenses, imagine what remarkable things you might see. You may have the power to find something you never knew about – something as big as the sun – that could change your career, life, or future forever. I urge you to put on a pair of new shades, take a moment to soak in what’s around you, and look up - especially on April 8.

Sri Kumar is President and Chief Executive Officer at Connico. He can be reached at