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UA Little Rock celebrating solar eclipse

The sun is partially eclipsed as it rises over lower Manhattan in New York on Thursday.
Seth Wenig
UA Little Rock has several activities planned to celebrate the upcoming total solar eclipse on April 8.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is gearing up for a Campus Eclipse Celebration on April 8, anticipating the influx of over 3 million people to Arkansas to witness this rare celestial event.

A total solar eclipse is a phenomenon that won’t happen again in Arkansas until 2045. Within the path of totality, the moon’s shadow will completely cover the Sun, and for a few minutes, it will be as dark as dawn or dusk.

The moon is predicted to start covering the sun at 12:33pm CDT, covering it further until 1:51pm - 1:54pm. During those three minutes, the moon’s shadow will be completely covering the sun. Once totality ends, the moon will move away from the sun and at 3:11pm, the eclipse will end.

Gregory Guisbiers is an associate professor of physics at UA Little Rock. He's helped to ensure the event will include plenty of opportunities to view and learn more about the science behind the eclipse.

“Being a physicist, being able to share our passion with students and the general public, that's very rewarding for us,” said Guisbiers.

There will be 30,000 pairs of solar eclipse glasses at the UA Little Rock Jack Stephens Center that will be distributed to guests. The glasses will make it safe to look directly at the sun as it peeks out behind the moon. Briefly, during totality, it will be safe to remove the glasses and directly observe the total eclipse.

There will also be an array of telescopes available for kids and adults, and a computerized telescope feed displayed on a big screen. For those with visual impairments, there will be an accessible viewing station that will allow guests to listen to the eclipse as it is translated into sound waves. There will also be experts on campus doing eclipse and astronomy-themed demonstrations.

Carrie Phillips, UA Little Rock's Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, has worked to ensure the celebration will be engaging and fun for people of all ages.

“We really just want this to be a great opportunity to celebrate UA Little Rock and our role in the community of providing a safe and secure place for people to come and enjoy this experience,” said Phillips.

The eclipse itself lasts less than three hours, with totality being only two and a half minutes, but the on-campus event will last six hours. UA Little Rock invites the community to make a day of the eclipse with food trucks, bounce houses, an inflatable planetarium, face painting, arts and crafts, and more.

For more information about the fun, inclusive and educational activities available at the celebration, visit UA Little Rock's website.

Emily Hardage is a George C. Douthit Endowed Scholarship recipient, interning at Little Rock Public Radio for the spring 2024 semester.
Maggie Ryan is a reporter and local host of All Things Considered for Little Rock Public Radio.