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Arkansas State Parks will Host a Variety of Solar Eclipse Programs

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August 11, 2017 | 2:28 pm

Up to 90% of the upcoming solar eclipse will be able to be seen in areas of The Natural State. Your Arkansas state parks are ready to make this amazing event even more special with programs scheduled for Monday, August 21, 2017.  Here are a few of the events that are scheduled:

  • Devils Den State Park – 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Meet at the playground area past the dam. Get ready to view a solar event 39 years in the making. Join Park Interpreter Terry for a view of the sun’s eclipse. We will have glasses that you can use to view the eclipse safely, and fun and games leading up to the event. The next eclipse visible to us won’t be till April 2024, so don’t miss out on this one. Please bring a camp chair or blanket and water.
  • Lake Fort Smith State Park: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. It’s not often that we get a chance to observe the sun being blocked out of sight by the moon, but here’s your chance!  Join members of the Arkansas/Oklahoma Astronomical Society as we view the solar eclipse from Lake Fort Smith State Park!  Telescopes and informative displays are used to help us better view and understand this amazing occurrence.  Bring your telescopes with a solar filter if you have one and bring along a lawn chair.  Maximum solar coverage (90%) will occur at approximately 1:07 pm.  This is a weather dependent event and is subject to cancellation. Meet at the Lake Fort Smith State Park Visitor Center.
  • Mississippi River State Park 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The earth’s moon will pass between earth and the sun, creating a shadow that will travel across the United States.  Mississippi River State Park is in the southern portion of the path that my see up to 90 % coverage of the sun.  For our viewing we should begin to notice the first hints of the sun being hidden around 11:51 a.m.   Peak coverage for our area will occur around 1:21 p.m. when the sun will be almost 90% hidden and then we will start seeing more and more of the sun until 2:49 p.m. when the moon will no longer be between us and the sun.  Remember never look at the sun directly.  Park Personnel will be available to answer questions and hand out solar viewing glasses during the eclipse period.
  • Petit Jean State Park 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The Arkansas Sky Observatories will be providing two telescopes so that visitors can enjoy this memorable day:  one telescope, a computerized specialty telescope, will be equipped with proper filters and will be broadcasting a live image onto a television that will be set up in a covered canopy for easy viewing for all to see; the second telescope will have a balanced sun filter that will allow visitors to actually see the eclipse with their own eyes.  Cell phones are welcome, since they can be used to snap photos of visitors as they witness this event either at the television or viewing through the telescopes. ASO Director and owner, P. Clay Sherrod will be on hand to discuss the eclipse and to explain the fundamentals of the celestial distances and motions which lead up to the rare event that we call a “solar eclipse.” Park personnel have special projects planned at various stations in the viewing area, which include making pinhole projection devices, solar-selfies, and much more.  Members of the Petit Jean Extension Homemakers Club will serve as volunteers during this event.
  • Lake Catherine State Park 11:45 a.m.-2:45 p.m. A solar eclipse is upon us! On August 21, 2017 this celestial event, dubbed “The Great American Eclipse,” will be viewable from a large swathe of the North American Continent. At Lake Catherine State Park it will be considered a partial solar eclipse and we will be set up to view this amazing spectacle on our patio area behind our Visitor Center. For viewing we will have a telescope with a solar filter and also a limited number of eclipse glasses. Max coverage is predicted at 1:17 p.m. when the moon will be covering almost the entire sun. Remember to be safe when viewing the eclipse, do not stare directly at it. It can only safely be viewed through lenses that are ISO and CE certified. Come join us at Lake Catherine State Park and experience an incredible celestial event!
  • Cane Creek 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Cane Creek State Park is offering a solar eclipse viewing party! Of course, it is not safe to look directly at a solar eclipse, so a proper viewing party requires some creativity! We are excited about our idea; Cane Creek is home to a wide variety of different kinds of oak trees. In order to connect visitors to our resource, our viewing party will take place under the oak trees! Interested participants will meet at the Visitor Center, where we will have several large white tarps laid out under select oak trees.  People will be encouraged to come and go as they please. However, the maximum point for the eclipse will take place here in Star City at approximately 1:20 p.m. There will be plenty of space for a large group of visitors to view the eclipse under the trees, but visitors are encouraged to bring their own methods of viewing the eclipse if they would like. Visitors are encouraged to bring snacks and cold drinks for themselves, especially if they plan to stay for the whole viewing party.
  • Lake Dardanelle State Park 2:30p.m. All of North America will be able to view a solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017. Join a park interpreter in the visitor center Lakeview Room to discover how you can safely view this incredible natural event. You will even have the opportunity to make you own viewer to use during the eclipse.
  • Jacksonport State Park 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. To quote Arkansas Native Johnny Cash, on August 21st, we will be able to witness a “Ring of Fire.” It’s a rare phenomenon called a solar eclipse. Join a park interpreter to learn how an object as small as the moon can block out an object as large as the sun.
  • Withrow Springs State Park 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Experiencing this solar eclipse is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Although it will not be a total eclipse at Withrow Springs State Park, we can still see a decent portion of it. Join Park Interpreter Ivory at the Keith Ham Pavilion for an unobstructed view and a short program to answer any eclipse questions. Solar eclipse viewing boxes will be available.
  • Mount Magazine State Park 1:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Our moon will pass between us and the sun, creating a shadow that will travel across the United States. Ninety percent of the sun will be hidden during this peak period as it passes over Mount Magazine. Experience this eerie midday dimming with assistance from park interpreters on the back patio of the lodge.
  • Lake Chicot State Park 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. The earth’s moon will pass between earth and the sun, creating a shadow that will travel across the United States. This is the first time since the United States became a country that a total solar eclipse will occur exclusively over the U.S.  Approximately 85% of the sun will be covered at the peak of the eclipse, around 1 p.m. Meet in the visitor center lobby at 11 a.m. to learn more about the history and science of eclipses. We also have a limited number of souvenir eclipse viewing glasses available. If you can’t make the program, glasses will be available at the front desk until we have passed them all out. The portion of the eclipse visible at Lake Chicot State Park will end just before 3 p.m.

Several parks will also hold pre-eclipse events that will help guests create their own solar eclipse viewers and learn more about this incredible natural wonder. And for those who find this experience one they want to replicate – they are in luck. In 2024, Arkansas will be one of only a handful of states in the U.S. that will be able to see a total solar eclipse! For more information about this year’s solar eclipse events go to ArkansasStateParks.com.

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Meg Matthews

Author: Meg Matthews

Meg Matthews is the Public Information Coordinator for Arkansas State Parks. She enjoys hiking, biking and swimming at state parks with her friends and family. Meg has recently joined the state parks team after spending years as a broadcast journalist. She is excited to tell all of the wonderful stories about state parks!