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9 Things to Do Now to Prepare for the 2024 Solar Eclipse

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Are you ready for the astronomical event of a lifetime? On April 8, 2024, Arkansas will experience a breathtaking total solar eclipse, and you won’t want to miss it. We recently got a trial run with the October 2023 Annular Eclipse, and everyone is getting excited. This total eclipse is expected to draw well over 100,000 people to Arkansas and will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. Whether you’re an avid skywatcher or just curious about this rare celestial phenomenon, here are nine things you can do now to prepare for the 2024 solar eclipse.

​​Graphic courtesy of Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com

1. Mark Your Calendar

April 8, 2024, is the date; you don’t want to forget it! You may also want to check with your employer to see how they plan to celebrate the day and be sure to request the day off if you plan to spend it with your family.

Photo of custom Petit Jean Mountain Eclipse Glasses by Petit Jean Coffeehouse.

2. Purchase Eclipse Glasses

It is so important to never look at the sun without proper eye protection, and regular sunglasses are not sufficient for viewing an eclipse. You’ll want to secure a pair of ISO-certified eclipse glasses well in advance. These glasses block harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays, ensuring you can safely observe the eclipse without damaging your eyes. Glasses are available online from various sources but check that they bear the label ISO 12312-2 (sometimes written as ISO 12312-2:2015). If you order glasses online, you should order from an approved vendor that has been checked by the American Astronomical Society.

Many local stores, state parks and nature centers across Arkansas sell certified eclipse glasses, so purchase locally when possible.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Park, Heritage and Tourism.

3. Use Alternate Viewing Methods

If you can’t secure appropriate eyewear, there are some fun ways to experience the eclipse using indirect viewing. A colander (like the kind you use for spaghetti) will create beautiful crescent moon shapes. A homemade pinhole box viewer will allow you to view the various stages of the moon eclipsing the sun.

4. Research Your Viewing Location

Nearly ⅔ of Arkansas is in the path of totality, and the entire state will see at least 94% coverage. Many places along the eclipse path will host special events and activities. Check with your local community for events, parties and gatherings. Make reservations (if necessary), as accommodations are filling up quickly.

Many places already have websites dedicated to the Eclipse:
Heber Springs
Hot Springs
Jonesboro
Little Rock
North Little Rock
Russellville
Searcy
State Parks of Arkansas
Texarkana

​​Graphic courtesy of Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com

5. Study the Path of Totality

Understand the path of totality and the exact times of the eclipse in your chosen location. This will help you plan when to arrive and where to position yourself for the best viewing experience. Traffic is expected to be well above average, so you will want to be in place well in advance. Click to view a list of eclipse times at each state park.

6. Have a Backup Plan

Arkansas is known for unpredictable weather, especially in April. It could feel like summer, but it could also be a cold day. There is also a concern over cloud cover. If cloud cover is expected, you will still be able to experience the unusual midday darkness and change in temperature that will accompany the event but will not see the full phenomenon. You will want to watch the weather closely, and you may wish to have a backup plan to travel to a more preferable location.

7. Practice Safe Photography

If you plan to capture the eclipse through photography, start practicing now. Learn how to use your camera or smartphone to ensure you get stunning shots without damaging your equipment.

  • Use a tripod.
  • Wear eclipse glasses when looking through the camera.
  • Use settings such as timelapse or intervals.
  • Use manual and long exposures.

Better yet, skip the pictures and simply enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime moment. Totality only lasts a for a short time. You don’t want to miss it fiddling with a camera.

8. Familiarize Yourself with Eclipse Terms

Learn some eclipse terms so you sound like the experts!

  • Baily’s beads: An effect that looks like beads around the sun caused by shafts of sunlight shining through deep valleys on the lunar limb (edge).
  • Corona: The Sun’s upper atmosphere shows as a round or elongated shape around the eclipsed Sun during totality.
  • Diamond ring: A single Baily’s Bead, shining like a brilliant diamond set into a ring created by the corona.
  • Penumbra: The portion of the Moon’s shadow covering only part of the Sun.
  • Totality: The maximum phase of a total solar eclipse, during which the Moon’s disk completely covers the Sun’s bright face. The length of totality can vary but will be around 4 minutes in 2024.

9. Bring Essentials

Pack essential supplies like water, snacks, a comfortable chair or blanket, viewing glasses and a full gas tank. Wear clothing appropriate for the weather, keeping in mind that weather in April can vary, so be prepared for different conditions.

The 2024 total solar eclipse promises to be a spectacular event, and by preparing now, you can ensure a safe and unforgettable experience. So, mark your calendar, grab your eclipse glasses, and start planning your eclipse adventure today! Remember, this is a rare event, and it’s never too early to prepare for this celestial show that will leave a lasting memory.

Stay tuned to OnlyinArk.com for more information and articles as we approach this amazing event.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and teaches art part-time at a local private school. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas where they raise chickens, farm hay and bake bread. Julie loves adventure and sharing it with her husband and son. They frequent the trails, campgrounds and parks of Arkansas, always on the hunt for new adventures and new stories to share. Learn more on her blog Seek Adventures Media.

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3 responses to “9 Things to Do Now to Prepare for the 2024 Solar Eclipse”

  1. […] is the time to decide where you will be  and prepare for the festivities. Many of the 77 towns in Arkansas experiencing eclipse totality are hosting weekend-long festivals […]

  2. […] viewing spots or stepping out into your backyard, it is the perfect time to plan fun activities and prepare for your family to mark the occasion of the Great North American Total Solar […]

  3. […] activities to partake in by clicking here, and ensure you’re well-prepared for the eclipse by clicking here for a helpful checklist. Get ready to witness this awe-inspiring celestial phenomenon in […]

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