On Monday, Aug. 21, viewers in the continental United States will be witness to a rare, spectacular event: the total eclipse of the Sun by the Moon. This will be the first total eclipse of the Sun seen in the United States since 1979. And Arkansas will be able to enjoy most of the event in spectacular fashion.
Though the Moon orbits the Earth every 28 days, the alignment of the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun to produce an eclipse only happens rarely. A wide arc of the US will fall into total darkness on Aug. 21 as the eclipse crosses the nation, from Salem, Oregon, curving across to Casper, Wyoming, to Missouri through Kansas City and St. Louis, then to Nashville, Tennessee, and down to Charleston, South Carolina. The path of the totality, or area of total eclipse, will be about 70 miles wide and viewers in the zone of the totality will be under a total eclipse for roughly two minutes as the Moon’s shadow crosses the Earth at a speed of 2000 miles per hour.
The maximum eclipse for Aug. 21 for western and Northwest Arkansas should occur around 1:14 p.m. For eastern Arkansas, this will occur at about 1:22.
The beginnings of the eclipse will occur around 11:47 a.m. In the Crossett area, viewers will see 86 percent coverage, peaking at 1:21 p.m. Viewers in Northeast Arkansas will get the best view, with 95 percent of the Sun eclipsed in Jonesboro, Blytheville, and Mountain View. The eclipse will end around 2:45 p.m.
Viewers must remember that they should never look at the Sun directly. Even with most of the Sun obscured, the glare is too intense for the human eye to tolerate. Looking directly at the Sun is dangerous and could cause permanent eye damage. Not even regular sunglasses or binoculars are safe. Darkened Welder’s glass is the only safe glass dark enough to view an eclipse through. The classic pinhole projector will offer safe viewing: simply poke a small hole through one sheet of paper (poster board or cardboard can also work) and allow the fading sunlight to project onto another piece of paper.