Celestial Spectacle: Saline County Residents Prepare for Total Solar Eclipse

On April 8, 2024, parts of Arkansas will experience a total solar eclipse! This means that for a matter of minutes, the moon will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun. During this period, the Sun’s bright rays will be blocked, casting the Moon’s dark shadow over parts of the planet!

Arkansans are particularly lucky because a portion of the state will fall within the “path of totality.” The path of totality is the stretch of land covered by the Moon’s shadow at any given time. This shadow will span approximately 118 miles at once! And Saline County falls within that path! This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in Saline County since 1918! You can visit this website to find your city’s exact start and end times for the eclipse.

Viewers outside of the path of totality will still be able to witness a partial solar eclipse, where the sun’s rays are only partly blocked. However, the amount of darkness experienced during a partial solar eclipse will depend on how far away the viewer is from the path of totality.

Eye safety is important while viewing a solar eclipse! The Sun’s ultra-violet (UV) rays can cause irreparable damage to a person’s unprotected eyes within SECONDS! For this reason, patrons are urged to take necessary precautions while viewing the eclipse.

One way to safely view the eclipse is with eclipse glasses (rated ISO 12312-2). These glasses have solar filters that allow small amounts of light to pass through, but not UV rays. Please be aware that normal sunglasses, regardless of how dark, are not strong enough to protect your eyes during the eclipse.

Viewers who do not have eclipse glasses can still safely view the progress of the eclipse through a pinhole projector! Download the instructions to make your own pinhole projector here.

The library will be providing eclipse glasses to Saline County Library card holders on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last. Eclipse glasses can be picked up at the Benton and Bryant branches starting on February 1. Saline County residents who do not yet have a library card can sign up for a free card online or in person, so they can also claim their glasses. To sign up for a library card, a person must have a photo ID and proof of their home, work, or school address in Saline County.

Other out-of-this-world ways to get excited for the Total Eclipse: