Warning: Solar eclipse will fry your eyeballs.
I love your column. We read it to close every deosil ceremony.
I am a High Priestess duotheist Seax-Wiccan following the true syncretic spiritual path of eclectic Wiccans. The 13 women of my coven — the Daughters of Gaea, Sisters to the Moon Local 167 — are planning an early lesser Mabon festival and antipodal Esbat at Murray Park Pavilion No. 4 on Aug. 21 to coincide with the solar eclipse.
There will be mud baths and eclipse viewing, then barbecue and karaoke. It’s educational (and not skyclad), so the public is invited.
I’ve heard different times. Can you tell me precisely when Little Rock will experience the eclipse so we can plan the scheduled double Handfastening? — Tara Maclay, Little Rock
It was wholly a pleasure to hear from you. It sounds like a lot of fun.
This is the first total eclipse visible to the continental United States in 38 years, and it’s been nearly 100 since Arkansas has seen one of this magnitude.
I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to issue my standard solar eclipse warning in an attempt to stave off those unfortunates competing in this subcategory of the Darwin Awards.
The last time I warned readers was about the partial eclipse on Christmas Day 2000. Here it is again.
Warning: Staring at the sun will not kill you, but you will burn out your eyes and go blind. Do not look directly at the sun. There is nothing remotely funny about having your vitreous humor boiled and your retinas fried. You will also go blind if you stare at even a partially eclipsed sun.
There. I’ve done my duty. Still, there will be some who go and do it anyway.
There are several safe ways to observe the eclipsing sun. Ordinary sunglasses will not work. Do not use them.
There are special dark “eclipse glasses” (ISO 123122 international standard) like the ones you sent me with your photo. There is the pinhole projection in the box trick that shows the sun as a crescent during the partial eclipse phases.
But that’s a small projection. There will be telescopes with solar filters around town, including one set up at Pavilion No. 8 near you by the Central Arkansas Astronomical and Astrological Cosplay Society.
Sadly, the UALR Planetarium is currently non-operational, but the university’s physics and astronomy department will be at Pavilion No. 2 with a telescope and will be handing out Neil deGrasse Tyson fans that double as masks.
Perhaps the safest way for small children to watch is online at nasa.gov/eclipselive. I know it’s not outdoors, but you won’t be worrying that they’ll take off their glasses and do damage.
Although Little Rock is not in the 70-mile-wide umbral “path of totality” that will take 94 minutes to pass through 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina, Murray Park still will be in the significant penumbra zone. The eclipse will begin at 11:48 a.m. and last until 2:47 p.m. with 89 percent of the sun blocked by the moon at precisely 1:18 p.m. Plan your Handfastening for that moment.
Want more? The Piggott chapter of Wicca and Rosicrucianism is meeting for the eclipse at the lake at Heritage Park. Piggott will see 97 percent of the sun blocked. Afterward, they will be holding a Triple Goddess ceremony at the amphitheater celebrating the Maiden, Mother and Crone.
The public is welcome, but bring your own lawn chair and hornucopian dronepipe for the traditional closing performance of “Siyahamba.”
And be prepared down by the river at Murray Park. At the precise eclipse perdieron, the temperature will plunge 20 degrees; the wind will pick up; roosters will crow; the Canada geese will run in circles; park coyotes will howl; women will faint; grown men will weep; while the children perseverate uncontrollably.
But it’ll only last for a moment.
Until next time, Kalaka reminds you that in 2024 and 2045, almost all of Arkansas will experience a total solar eclipse.
Local Wiccan Tara Maclay practices for the mud and solar eclipse event to be held at Murray Park on Aug. 21.