Henderson invites general public to celebrate solar eclipse

Henderson State University has planned a carnival-like atmosphere April 8 to celebrate the Great North American Eclipse. On that day, the early-afternoon daylight will briefly dip to darkness as the moon maneuvers between the sun and earth.

Henderson invites the public to experience the total solar eclipse at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium where free eclipse glasses will be provided, along with telescopes and sun spotters available for public use. Free commemorative t-shirts will be given to the first 1,500 eclipse aficionados to arrive. The festivities begin at 11 a.m. and end at 5 p.m.

Several food options, including food trucks, Chick-fil-A, and other concessions provided by Sodexo, will be available.

A variety of entertainment will keep visitors busy as they experience the rare event where the shadow of the moon will plunge a narrow strip of North America into darkness in the middle of the day.

Henderson’s NuFusion Jazz Ensemble will perform, and a variety of fun activities will take place, including a ropes course, rock wall, pirate ship ride, bounce houses, and an inflatable obstacle course.

“The last total solar eclipse that went over Arkansas occurred in 1918,” said Dr. Shannon Clardy, dean of the College of Aviation, Science, and Nursing. “We’ve had partial eclipses since then, but in this particular eclipse, the moon will completely cover the sun.

“It will make daytime look like night for two minutes and one second in Arkadelphia. It will be dark enough that we should be able to see stars and planets.”

Clardy said the eclipse will begin around 12:30 p.m. when the moon touches the edge of the sun. The “totality” will occur at 1:49, with the moon completely moving off the sun around 3:30.

The next total solar eclipse won’t occur in the United States until 2044.

The university will be participating in the NASA Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast, and a telescope will be set up to collect images for heliospheric data. These images will also be live-streamed as they are captured.

Leading up to the eclipse, Henderson will present a free planetarium show, The Secrets of the Sun, on April 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. Eclipse glasses will also be available at the show.

For more information, go to hsu.edu/eclipse.