Community Eclipse Planning
Arkansas will experience a partial annular solar eclipse on October 14th, 2023. Far more significant, much of the state will experience a total solar eclipse on April 8th, 2024. Many communities will view these events in terms of potential tourism value, but a total eclipse in a given area is literally a once in a lifetime event so planning should also focus on providing a meaningful, safe and educational experience for local residents as well.
Planning for a total eclipse can pose challenges in regards to transportation, accommodation, sanitation, public health and safety, and education. Communities of all sizes, down to the neighborhood associations level in our larger cities and school groups should consider planning for these two events, but particularly the total eclipse.
The information provided here is intended to stimulate and help facilitate such planning.
Planning must start with identifying certain basic functions and assigning responsibilities to specific persons or groups. In a small community, one person might wear all the hats. Still, as everybody’s business is nobody’s business, relevant functions need to be identified and assigned.
Event Coordinator - The first step in planning for these events is putting someone in overall administrative charge to make sure planning moves forward and tasks are assigned. Administrative experience and some knowledge of what is involved in planning for an eclipse are needed. The event coordinator should inform themselves of what services and information are available from governmental and NGO resources, such as this page and the links below, to help plan and administer the event.
Education – Most people in a given community will never have experienced a total eclipse before. Someone will need to learn enough about the event to educate the community on safety, terminology, stages of the event, when it is safe to remove glasses, what phenomenon to look for, etc. A review of the How to Observe page on this website will provide the necessary information. It is anticipated that there will likely be training programs available prior to the event. As we learn of these they will be published on this webstite as well.
Communications – It will be important to share information about community event planning within the community and potentially the broader public if tourism is a goal. This may involve using media releases, community notices, social media, and perhaps websites. Communities with dedicated online event resources may wish to have them linked to the tables on the Time & Places page of this website.
Traffic Direction – Traffic and parking requirements will need to be considered and planned. This may require satellite parking, temporary changes in traffic direction and/or road closures, signage to effectuate the same, and shuttle services in some cases.
Event site management – One or more community observing sites might need to be selected. Here attention must be given to the physical suitability of the site such as size, visibility, and accessibility. Any required permits will need to be obtained, and the site may need preparation - cleaning, mowing, bathroom facilities, and trash facilities provided. In addition, parking, first aid, water, food trucks, communication, and safety, to include assuring that participants have glasses and/or are informed about their necessity use, will all need to be considered.
Things to Create
As everybody's business is nobody's business, if you don't write it down it's not really a plan. To share our plans and to educate the public we need to create a few things.
- An event plan
- Pre-event education programs
- A marketing plan
- A communication plan
- A media kit
- An event site plan(s)
- Webpage and/or social media page(s)
Things to Provide
For safety, comfort, and convenience there are a few things that you will want to provide or direct people to.
- Certified safe eclipse glasses
- Food and beverages
- Guides to other local attractions
- Weather tracking
Links to Additional Resources
- Community Event Planning, by Dr. Kate Russo - One of several resources drawn on in creating this page.
- eclipsophile - Weather Forecast based on historic weather patterns
- American Astronomical Society - Eclipse Safety
- NASA Edge - Heaven forbid, if it clouds out you can watch it live.
- AR-Eclipse.info (To be added) Newsletter about workshops, events, & changes to this website
- Eclipse Glasses - (To be added)