While we won’t get a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 like our cousins to the south, we’ll still be treated to a beautiful partial one. But you’re going to want to see it safely.
Looking at the sun is always a bad idea, but during an eclipse, we tend to try to overcome the body’s response that tells us to look away from the bright light. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s safe just because part of the sun is blocked by the moon.
“Just because 80 per cent of the sun is missing, 20 per cent of the sun is there. You only need a fraction of a per cent of the sun to be visible to generate eye damage,” astronomer Paul Delay told CBC News.
Ralph Chou, astronomer and editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal of Optometry, agreed.
“Even if 0.5 per cent of the sun’s photosphere is visible, there is still a retinal hazard because the exposed photosphere is still producing the same amount of light as always,” he told CBC News. “The only difference is, the scar is the shape of the exposed remaining crescent instead of a circle.”
The scar comes from long exposure to the intense light from the sun, which can literally cook the retinal tissue of your eye.
There are safe ways to watch an eclipse, however.
You can purchase solar eclipse glasses. But be wary: fake solar eclipse glasses have been making the rounds. So buy them from a science store, museum, science centre or trusted astronomy group. However, with anticipation for the event ramping up, many places may be sold out.
You can also use Number 14 welder’s glasses (but only those) which may be available at hardware stores.
Or, you can make a pinhole camera with cardboard, aluminum foil, tape and a pin.
If you’d like to see the eclipse through a special solar telescope, check out local events near you for eclipse parties.
Here are some events in major Canadian cities. Elsewhere, look for astronomical groups, science organizations or events hosted by your town or city.
All times in this list are local.
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre, will be set up on top of Mount Tolmie from about 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
The University of Victoria will update its site about its event.
Science World will hold its viewing event from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., with total eclipse coverage from the U.S. in the Science Theatre from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Enjoy the eclipse at the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Edmonton Centre’s Observatory at TELUS World of Science.
TELUS Spark is throwing an eclipse party. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., you can make your own eclipse viewer. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. enjoy a safe look through telescopes with solar filters. And there will even be a barbecue (for a price) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The University of Calgary will also have a solar eclipse viewing at the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The eclipse begins at 10:30 a.m. with 75 per cent of the sun covered by the moon at 11:46 a.m. At the Saskatchewan Science Centre, you can enjoy the spectacle with astronomers outside the Kramer IMAX Theatre.
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will set up telescopes at London Drugs at Preston Avenue and 8 St. E.
You’ll be able to see about 70 per cent of the sun covered by the moon from the Manitoba Museum from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eclipse glasses will be for sale, but you can also see the partial eclipse from solar telescopes.
You’ll have several opportunities to catch the eclipse, where 70 per cent of the sun will be blocked out.
The Ontario Science Centre has an all-day program. The eclipse begins at 1:10 p.m. with maximum coverage at 2:32 p.m.
York University will hold an event from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Lions Stadium.
The University of Toronto will hold an eclipse party at Princess Margaret Stadium at the CNE from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with free eclipse glasses. While there is no charge for admission to the event, attendees will need to pay admission the CNE grounds.
Head over to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, where astronomers will have solar telescopes and sun viewers available. An astrophysicist will be on hand to teach about our magnificent star.
Enjoy the eclipse at McGill University. There wil be solar telescopes set up, as well as free eclipse glasses and a live stream of the total eclipse. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
There will also be a viewing party at Espace pour la vie where there’s free admission to the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.
Saint John, N.B.
The Saint John Astronomy Club is providing two locations to view the eclipse, which begins at 2:37 p.m. Head out to Irving Nature Park and the Rockwood Park Bark Park.
You can see half the sun blocked by the moon, by attending an event held by astronomers at the Shipyards Park.