City – Hour:Minute:Second
Texarkana 1:46:54-1:49:25 P.M.
Mena 1:47:26-1:51:30 P.M.
Arkadelphia 1:49:34-1:51:48 P.M.
Ozark 1:50:06-1:52:38 P.M.
Clinton 1:51:34-1:55:49 P.M.
Jacksonville 1:51:59-1:54:31 P.M.
Salem 1:53:43-1:57:08 P.M.
Newport 1:54:05-1:57:08 P.M.
Jonesboro 1:55:33-1:57:59 P.M.
Corning 1:55:42-1:59:38 P.M.
Countdown to The April 8, 2024, Solar Eclipse
Texarkana is promoting next spring’s awesome celestial event as a “Solarbration.” It will be the first sizable Arkansas city where the sun goes dark on the Monday afternoon of April 8, 2024, as the state witnesses its first total solar eclipse since 1918.
In nine other cities with Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas headquarters, as well as their surrounding service areas, the moon also will block out the sun. The eclipse’s 118-mile-wide path of totality will speed northeast at 1,700 miles per hour across The Natural State in just 13 minutes starting at 1:46 p.m.
The last totality city among 17 cooperative headquarters will be Corning. The others in chronological order will be Texarkana, Mena, Arkadelphia, Ozark, Clinton, Jacksonville, Salem, Newport and Jonesboro, with full darkness lasting longest (4 minutes, 15 seconds) in Clinton. The seven other cooperative areas will at least see a partial eclipse.
With this rare spectacle still six months away, local governments and businesses are planning how to welcome and handle as many as 250,000 eclipse seekers predicted to arrive from out of state. Many hotels, motels and other lodgings in Arkansas’ totality belt are already fully booked, most at prices multiple times their normal rates.
Although the totality will last less than five minutes anywhere in the state, enthusiasts insist that seeing it will be well worth the effort. They point out that the time between the moon’s first dimming of the sun’s disc and the return of the full sun is much longer. It can last more than two hours, as in Arkadelphia (2 hours, 39 minutes) and Clinton (2 hours, 37 minutes). There will be plenty of time to build excitement and then decompress.
“A solar eclipse is a must-see item, since more people are seeking experience events,” says Carl Freyaldenhoven, eclipse resource coordinator for Central Arkansas Astronomical Society. “Eclipses are a display of nature in action. Seeing an eclipse is the true meaning of awe.”
Shealyn Sowers, chief of communications for the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism says, “The 2024 eclipse puts Arkansas on the world stage. We want to make sure that all tourists have a safe and amazing Arkansas adventure — and that first-time visitors make Arkansas a repeat destination.”
In Mena, planning is underway for a four-day celebration. The April 5-8 event, called “Mena Eclipse-mas Festival” to evoke the holiday spirit of Christmas, will take place mainly in Janssen Park. Eclipse activities are also planned at Avalon Keep Botanical Gardens and nearby Blue Zipline & Farm.
“It’s hard this early to know how many visitors we’ll be hosting,” says Pasha Watson, administrator of Mena Advertising & Promotion Commission. “We’ve heard estimates ranging from 10,000 to 50,000. Our community is actively planning and coordinating various agencies to ease potential issues from a large influx of visitors.”
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Copenhaver says his city “will have larger viewing sites at Joe Mack Campbell, Southside and Craighead Forest parks. Most any city-owned park will be an open and welcome space to view the eclipse.” He notes that the Oasis Arts Festival has moved to April 6-7, joining the fun two days before the eclipse.
Addressing safety concerns, Copenhaver says,“Our first responders as well as police and fire chiefs have been studying cities that hosted past eclipse events to be as prepared as possible.”
Planners on the Arkansas side of Texarkana are working with Texas colleagues for a four-day celebration with the slogan “Total Eclipse, Two States.” There will be activities involving the popular Four States Fair and Rodeo; the opening weekend immediately precedes the eclipse day.
Similar preparations are underway in other Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas territories where the rare daytime darkening of the sun will occur. For Arkansans living outside the totality zone, there is this advice from P. Clay Sherrod, director of Arkansas Sky Observatories on Petit Jean Mountain:
“First and foremost is accessibility. If people wait until the morning of April 8 to head into the eclipse path, they are not going to make it. The roads will be backed up from every direction. Plan early, reserve a campsite or room somewhere, and get there by the Saturday before the eclipse. And map a good highway to get out. It will be a daylong traffic jam.”
One factor beyond human planning could sabotage the eagerly awaited spectacle, as was the case on June 8, 1918. A headline next day in the Arkansas Gazette cited the culprits: “Clouds Obstruct View of Eclipse.” Come next April, Arkansans will be rooting for weather forecasts of blue skies up above.
October 2023 Partial Eclipse
Arkansans can view a warmup act for next April’s spectacular sky show this month.
A partial eclipse of the sun will cross the state at midday on Saturday, Oct. 14. Depending on location, it will start slightly before or about 10:30 a.m. and end by or slightly after 1:30 p.m.
The dimming caused by the moon’s passage over part of the solar disc will range from more than 70% in the southwest corner of the state to less than 60% in the northeast. As examples, the sun will be 69.5% obscured in Arkadelphia and 60.8% covered in Jonesboro.
Viewers are reminded that even a partial eclipse requires the wearing of protective eclipse glasses to avoid possible serious damage to the eyes. The glasses can be purchased online at a number of sites.
The totality times for hundreds of other Arkansas locations can be found at Arkansas Eclipse Information online.
Another great source for eclipse information is Great American Eclipse Website.