The Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

– As Viewed from Arkansas – 

The deepest and arguably the best solar eclipse to cross Arkansas in almost 100 years will occur beginning around lunch time on Aug. 21.  The northeastern part of Arkansas will see the deepest eclipse with almost 98% of the Sun being covered by the Moon.  


The Path to Totality

Let’s begin by looking at a map of the eclipse path across the United States.

In the map above anyone inside the double red lines will see a total eclipse,.  The green line is the center of the eclipse where totality will be its longest.  This will be the first total solar eclipse to touch the United States this century, so if you’d like to see this eclipse at its best the closest places to Arkansas to view totality is Missouri or southern Illinois.

Below are highly detailed NASA maps of the eclipse path over Nebraska and Missouri.  Click to view or download.

Missouri

Nebraska

Greatest Duration of Totality – 2 minutes 40 seconds.
The greatest duration of totality, the place where the Sun will be hidden behind the Moon the longest will be in southern Illinois, northeast of Cape Girardeau, Mo. Here the eclipse will last for 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Being in this spot is not as critical as you might think though. If you are anywhere from central Nebraska to South Carolina on the eclipse path you’ll see at least 2 minutes 30 seconds of totality.  What is more important is being as close to the center line as possible.

 

The Total Eclipse from Arkansas

As seen in the map below, northeast Arkansas will have the deepest eclipse at over 95% of the Sun being covered by the Moon.  Those living in the southwest portions of the state around Texarkana, while still seeing a significant portion of the Sun blocked, will see less than 85% coverage.

Total Solar Eclipse Map for Arkansas - Maximum Coverage

Total Solar Eclipse Map for Arkansas – Maximum Coverage

 

Safely View the Eclipse

It is NEVER safe to look at the Sun!  An eclipse is no more dangerous to watch than looking at the Sun on a normal day, however, on a normal day people are not tempted to look at the Sun.  If in doubt about your viewing method do not use it.  Unlike other parts of our body our eyes do not have pain sensor in them to tell us when we are hurting them.  However, when we look at the Sun we are.  

What not to use.

Let’s begin by talking about what not use!

Sunglasses  –  While they may dim the visual range of light they don’t always block all of the harmful UV and Infrared light that causes damage to your eyes.  Sunglasses will not protect your eyes for direct viewing of the Sun!

Unfiltered telescopes / binoculars – Do NOT point unfiltered telescopes or binoculars at the Sun.  If you or a child looks through them you will permanently damage your eyes before you fell any pain.  If you have a telescope with an eyepiece that has a screw in solar filter throw it out!  These haven’t been sold in years due to safety concerns. If you still have one don’t use it.

Films – various types of exposed films have been suggested in the past.  If these are not specifically rated for solar use don’t use them.  Just because they dim the light in the visual range doesn’t mean it dims the dangerous UV and IR light.

Indirect Viewing

Paper Plates – One of the safest ways, especially for kids, to view the eclipse is with a paper plate pinhole camera. Take two paper plates, and pop a small hole in one of them.  Then hold the two plates, so the sunlight passes through the hole in the first plate and falls on the second plate.  On the second plate you’ll see a small image of the eclipsed Sun.  Experiment with different sizes and shapes.

Look under a tree The leaves create dozens of pinhole cameras.  Look on the ground under the tree and you should see hundreds of eclipsed suns dancing around.

Direct Viewing

Eclipse Glasses – Direct viewing will require the use of special filters.  Make sure these are specifically designed for solar viewing.  Eclipse glasses are usually available for just a few dollars, but get them early, they will be a hot commodity in the days leading up to the eclipse!  We’ve got some recommended ones below.

Welding Glass – #14 welding glasses can also be used and can sometimes be found at welding supply stores.  #14 is not as common as #12, so you may need to order these ahead of time.  You can also sandwich two welding glass together as long as they add up to #14.  For example a #10 and #4 would work.

Solar Filters – If you have a telescope there are solar filters available to place on these for safe viewing.  Again, order them early and practice using them before eclipse day.  Here is a manufacture we’ve used for years for solar products: http://thousandoaksoptical.com/


How Dark Will it Get?

This is the view of the sky during totality for viewers in Missouri.  As you can see the sky becomes dark enough for the brightest planets and stars to become visible.  While the sky around the Sun gets dark, the sky around the horizon will remain illuminated because in those areas the Sun will partially be uncovered.  So, if you travel to see totality, look for Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the bright stars of winter.

A view of the sky at mid-eclipse as seen from central Arkansas.  While only ~10% of the Sun will be uncovered that is enough to brightly illuminate the landscape.  There will only be a slight to moderate drop in brightness around the Sun, with areas of the sky around the horizon staying brighter because in those areas more of the Sun’s surface is visible. The sky will take on an eerie gray polarized almost unnatural look.  Realistically, though depending on your location in the state, the sky may only dim enough for Venus to become visible.

Weather

The eclipse will even affect the weather!  Look for these changes in the weather caused by the eclipse.

Temperature – Any drop in temperature is usually welcome relief in the summer.  Summer heat is created by sunlight falling on the ground heating it up.  The warm ground then warms the air.  During the eclipse, the amount of sunlight reaching the ground will be reduced and thus the air temperature will be cooler.  Studies have shown the coolest air comes 2-3 minutes following the end of totality and can be as much as 10 degrees cooler than normal.  Since we will not see totality in Arkansas the drop will not be as much, however with up to 90% of the Sun covered the temperature’s rate of climb toward the afternoon high will be slowed and may even drop a degree or two.  This can be an interesting thing to watch with your kids.  Meteorologist can probably safely drop a degree or two off what they would normally forecast for a high on that day, especially in northern Arkansas.

Wind – With the eclipse creating a temperature differential across the area it will also create wind.  While still influenced by local weather patterns look for changes in speed and direction with the wind as the eclipse progresses.  The closer you are to the center of the eclipse the more pronounced these changes will be.

Animals

Getting dark during the daytime…   How will animals react?  Pay attention to the animals in your area and see how they react to the unusual daytime darkness.  It is not uncommon for many of them to react as if the night is coming early.

A Historical View

The last time Arkansas had an eclipse of the magnitude of this year’s eclipse was 99 years ago on June 8, 1918.

Here is a report from the daily Arkansas Gazette concerning the June 8, 1918 solar eclipse: 

Arkadelphia, June ‘8.-The total eclipse of the sun at this place was very interesting, despite the intermittent cloudiness. Just at the moment of total obscurity the clouds interfered and the view of the sun was cut off. However, the effects were startling. Darkness came on very, suddenly and lights flashed on over the city. Automobiles switched on their headlights. Lightning bugs quickly roused from the grass and scattered abroad. An old hen, with her little chickens, beat a quick retreat for the coop and she was all fussed up about being caught away from home by the darkness. Calf blatings were answered by the low of the cow. To all appearances it was night. The shadow came swiftly so that one could detect its growing darkness. To have not known tho cause of the phenomena would have been very unsettling.

 

Eclipse Times

Arkansas State Eclipse Times:

  • Eclipse Begins: ~11:40am – 11:55am
  • Eclipse Max: ~ 1:10pm – 1:25pm
  • Eclipse End: ~ 2:35pm – 2:50pm

 

If you are in NW Arkansas you’ll have the earlier time events, the farther SE the later the occurrence of the events.

The graphics below display the eclipse times, magnitude and (in the blue) what the eclipse will look like at maximum for select cities across the state.  Notice the difference in the Sun’s appearance from Jonesboro to Texarkana.

Solar Eclipse times: Fayetteville, Arkansas Solar Eclipse times: Jonesboro, Arkansas
Solar Eclipse times: Conway, Arkansas Solar Eclipse times: Little Rock, Arkansas
Solar Eclipse times: Texarkana, Arkansas