Experience the Eclipse
Stay and Play…Through Night and Day!
Arkansas is known as “The Natural State” for many reasons…and on October 14, 2023, and April 8, 2024, it will be due to two natural phenomenon taking place in our skies. October 14, 2023, much of Arkansas will experience approximately 90 minutes of a partial eclipse, although the state will not be directly in the path of annularity.
On April 8, 2024, Arkansas is in the enviable position of having the “path of totality” of the Great North American Eclipse run diagonally across the state. During the Great North American Eclipse on April 8, 2024, the longest span of darkness will be four minutes and 28.13 seconds. In Arkansas, the longest time of darkness will be approximately four minutes and 20 seconds. Although that might not sound like much time, it’s nearly twice as long as the darkness during the 2017 eclipse.
Make plans to come before the eclipse and stay afterwards…avoid the traffic jams and enjoy the beauty and the fun of The Natural State!
What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse takes place when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “a total solar eclipse is not noticeable until the Sun is more than 90 percent covered by the Moon. At 99 percent coverage, daytime lighting resembles local twilight.”
What is an annular eclipse?
An annular eclipse happens when the moon passes in front of the Sun but it is not completely covered from view. The outer edges of the Sun are still visible and create (insert Johnny Cash music here!) “a ring of fire” around the moon. On October 14, 2023, Arkansas will not see the fiery ring around the moon, but we will have nearly 90 minutes of visibility to the partial eclipse. As with a total eclipse, you will need certified eye protection.
Where should I go?
Viewing the Great North American Eclipse in Arkansas will be much easier than in 2017 since the path of totality literally runs through The Natural State. Here are some ideas of places to visit to see the natural phenomenon.
- Take to the water! Think about being on a canoe, kayak or boat during the Great American Eclipse. With more than a third of Arkansas being within the area of a total eclipse, that means some of the most beloved bodies of water in the state will be “ground zero.” The Buffalo National River, Greers Ferry Lake, Lake Dardanelle, the Upper White River, Lake Catherine, Lake Hamilton, the Arkansas River, Lake Ouachita, Spring River, Bull Shoals Lake…we could go on and on. Being in the middle of a lake, river or stream means that, most likely, there won’t be massive tree coverage or anything keeping you from an amazing view of the eclipse.
- Go high! Plan a visit to some of Arkansas’s highest peaks – Mount Magazine, Pinnacle Mountain, Crowley’s Ridge, Petit Jean Mountain or Rich Mountain.
- Participate in a special event. Astronomy clubs and societies, planetariums, national and state parks and many other groups will be hosting special events focused on and around the Great North American Eclipse. Check out the Arkansas Calendar of Events to learn more about eclipse special activities.
- Think about the “less obvious” locations. With more than a third of Arkansas being directly within the path of totality, there will be thousands of visitors, known as eclipse chasers, descending on the state. This is a great thing, but also lends to congested areas and traffic issues. Some of Arkansas’s natural heritage areas and wildlife management areas could lend to a great eclipse experience with fewer people. Two national forests – the Ouachita and the Ozark – will lie within the path of totality. Each offers campgrounds and recreation areas that would lend well to viewing the eclipse in nature.
Preparing for the Eclipse
Here are some things to think about when planning YOUR Arkansas Eclipse adventure.
- If the path of totality doesn’t run close to you, you may want/need to plan an overnight visit. BOOK EARLY! Hotels, lodges, RV sites and even campsites will be reserved early.
- Have your approved eclipse glasses in hand as early as possible. During the 2017 eclipse, many people had difficulty finding the glasses.
- Come early and stay late! Areas within the path of totality during the 2017 solar eclipse reported traffic issues as visitors all tried to leave immediately after the event. So make plans to arrive a day or so before the eclipse and stay a day or two afterwards.
Dark Skies Above
Arkansas is a “natural” for those looking to enjoy the beauty of a night sky. In larger cities, that may mean heading to a more remote location without lighting. In smaller communities you can just walk outside your front door and gaze upon the heavens. In other words, the less lighting the better your chance of seeing stars, planets and constellations.
In 2019, the Buffalo National River was named the state’s first International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. The Association is the recognized authority for night sky protection and works with governments, communities and city planners to help reduce impacts to natural night skies where possible. The park’s work to promote the protection of Buffalo National River’s natural nighttime environment as a resource to be enjoyed by visitors is what inspired the designation. This designation does not restrict or control lighting in local communities or on private property within the park. Click here to learn more about the park’s prestigious designation.
In The Natural State, another great choice for stargazing is one of our 52 Arkansas State Parks. In fact, many of the parks offer interpretive programs geared toward astronomy.