Have you ever had a once in a lifetime opportunity? Could be a job, a giant party, finding true love, or something else. Well, on Monday August 21st almost all of North America will bear witness to a solar eclipse! An event that is just as wonderful as it is dangerous. More on that later.
A solar eclipse is an natural event in which the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, blocking out the sun for a brief period of time. Unfortunately, the total solar eclipse will only be viewable in the United States, specifically in the regions that fall in this path.
So what will Canada be able to view? Many major Canadian Cities will have view of a partial eclipse, in which the Moon will only cover some or most of the Sun. Vancouver will get the most coverage at over 80% and it will go down the further east you go. Toronto will get some decent views as well with around 70% coverage. You can search for what kind of coverage your city will get here.
Now, we want to make something clear. DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT A PARTIAL ECLIPSE. Seriously, you can damage your eyes to the extent of blindness. And not Marvel’s Daredevil blindness, I mean you could actually damage your eyes so severely that you risk losing your vision. This is due to the intensity of the sunlight being increased by a significant amount from the coverage of the moon. Even if 99% percent of the sun is covered, it is still incredibly dangerous.
Traditional sunglasses won’t help at all. Many space agencies like NASA recommend the use of solar eclipse glasses or number 14 welder’s goggles, which you can find at some hardware stores.
If you wish to photograph the eclipse, you will need some special equipment. Specifically a Solar Filter for your camera or Telescope. You might be out of luck to find one as they are very expensive and high in demand at the moment. You could however use the pinhole method to make a projection of the eclipse to photograph. This can be done using two paper plate or you can find a nearby tree and see the effect through the shadows of the leaves.
The overall cheapest options for viewing the eclipse is by creating a pinhole camera, which you can make with a cereal box, tinfoil and paper. Or by getting some pegboard from your local hardware store.
Many science centres and museums such as The Ontario Science Centre, Science World in Vancouver, The Manitoba Museum and many others across the country are having viewing events for people to get together and watch this spectacle together. They should have all the necessities needed for people to safely view the eclipse.
Overall, an eclipse is a once in a lifetime opportunity to view, and should not be missed. Just make sure it’s not the last thing you see. Do your research, use the methods provided above, and you should be able to view the eclipse with your eyes intact.