How to See the 2017 Solar Eclipse in Northwest Arkansas
All over Northwest Arkansas, kids and adults alike are getting excited for Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 when a total solar eclipse will cross the United States. The phenomenon will start in Oregon and finish in South Carolina. The last time this happened was 1918!
According to a chart from the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society, the eclipse will begin at approximately 11:43 a.m. in the northwest corner of the state and be over by approximately 2:50 p.m. in the southeast, with peak totality occurring between 1:13 and 1:22 p.m. No matter where you are in the state, you'll be able to see the sun almost completely blocked by the moon-especially if you're in the north and northeast, which lie closest to the path of totality and will see 95%-97% coverage.
How to see the 2017 total eclipse
Remember, even though the sun will appear darker, it can still severely damage your eyes if you look at it directly, even with a pair of sunglasses. Check out these alternate ways to view the eclipse without burning your eyes.
- Buy a pair of eclipse glasses. Check your local Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, drugstore and library. These retailers and many libraries have been carrying the glasses, but have been running out so call before you head over there. Make sure the ones you buy have a label that says "ISO 12312-2 standard." Some glasses are being marketed for eclipse use, but aren't actually up to standard. You shouldn't be able to see your hand in front of your face while wearing the glasses. That would mean too much light is getting through the filter.
- Make a shoebox solar eclipse viewer. This is an oldie, but goodie and it's a cheap alternative, especially if the eclipse glasses are all sold out. The Boy Scouts magazine - Boys' Life - has a great online page on how to make a viewer with a shoebox, small square of aluminum foil, small square of white paper, utility knife, tape and pin. There's also a great Youtube how-to video below.
- Visit a viewing station. The Pea Ridge National Military Park will host a program before the August 21 solar eclipse. Activities will begin at 11:30 a.m. The program will take 20 minutes, and will be in the Visitors Center auditorium. Attendees will be given a pair of glasses to use, in order to view the eclipse. The park says the eclipse will begin at 11:43 a.m., reach its peak at 1:12 p.m. and end at 2:40 p.m. Children will be able to compete in a Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer booklet, and earn a Junior Ranger Solar Eclipse badge. A limited number of the booklets and badges will be available.
The Arkansas-Oklahoma Astronomical Society will host a watch party at the Lake Fort Smith State Park marina on August 21 at 10:30am. The Mid-America Science Museum, in Hot Springs, will present eclipse-themed educational programming and hands-on activities in the hours before and after the eclipse, including the Solar Eclipse Watch Party on August 21, 10am-6pm.
However you choose to appreciate the great solar eclipse, make it memorable. The next solar eclipse will be in 2024, when it crosses Arkansas diagonally from the southwest corner to the northeast.
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE:
Never allow your children to look at the eclipse unprotected even for a brief few seconds as it can cause irreversible damage to ones eyes that may not be realized for years to come. On that note, Amazon has issued a massive recall of solar eclipse glasses. If you bought a pair of solar eclipse glasses, NASA warns they should be "ISO-12312-2" certified from a reputable manufacturer. However, Amazon has not listed specific brands because apparently there are counterfeits out there under reputable brands that is very alarming - so how does a consumer know if the glasses are legitimate?
Family life's recommendation: take no chances and use the shoebox method that doesn't require the viewer to look directly at the eclipse.
Great article on Scientific American on why we can't look at the sun.