Solar Eclipse of 1834

A total solar eclipse is a phenomenon in which the moon totally obscures the bright light of the sun, leaving only the faint corona visible. Some residents of Arkansas Territory and some states in the South could see such an eclipse on November 30, 1834.

The Arkansas Gazette announced the impending event in December 1833 by running an excerpt from the American Almanac stating that “the most remarkable of the phenomena that this year will happen, is the eclipse of the sun on Sunday, the 30th of November,” being total “in a small part of the territory of Arkansas” and in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The article noted that “a great depression of the thermometer, if placed in the Sun, will probably be noticed” and warned that for viewers to protect their eyes “one of the very darkest green or red glasses of a sextant, and in default of this, a piece of common window glass…rendered quite black by the smoke of a lamp, only, can be used with safety.”

As the event grew nearer, the Gazette announced on November 11, 1834, that the eclipse would be “commencing about 20 minutes after 12PM, and continuing about two and a half hours.” The Arkansas Times and Advocate repeated the Almanac excerpt two days before the eclipse.

Viewing conditions were perfect on November 30, 1834, and the Gazette reported that the eclipse “was witnessed here in its fullest grandeur.” The celestial event started around 11:30 a.m. and lasted until around 2:20 p.m., and “the obscuration of the sun was fully total for the space of 2 ½ or 3 minutes, commencing about 3 minutes before 1 o’clock.” The newspaper concluded that “the weather was perfectly clear—not a cloud to be seen—affording a most excellent opportunity of witnessing this magnificent phenomenon of nature in all its sublimity.”

A second total solar eclipse occurred over Arkansas on June 8, 1918, though it was mostly obscured on a cloudy, rainy day. A total solar eclipse will also be visible in Arkansas on April 8, 2024.

For additional information:
“Eclipse.” Arkansas Gazette, November 11, 1834, p. 3.

“Eclipse.” Arkansas Times and Advocate, November 28, 1834, p. 2.

“The Eclipse of the Sun.” Arkansas Gazette, December 2, 1834, p. 3.

“From the American Almanac for 1834.” Arkansas Gazette, December 4, 1833, p. 2.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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