News / Edmonton

A guide to watching the eclipse in Edmonton

Where, when and how to do it safely

Bruce McCurdy is excited about the upcoming Solar Eclipse.

Kevin Tuong / For Metro

Bruce McCurdy is excited about the upcoming Solar Eclipse.

As you’ve no doubt heard, Monday is the day a total solar eclipse—where the moon will be in the right place and the right time to block out the much larger sun—will chart a very rare path across the United States, plunging the cities below into darkness.

Here in Edmonton we’re too far north to get the full eclipse experience, but the moon will still block out up to 70 per cent of the sun’s rays, according to Bruce McCurdy, an amateur astronomer with the Telus World of Science.

That means the quality of sunlight will go down a notch, and a chance to see “the moon take a big bite out of the sun, but not quite cover the whole disc,” as McCurdy describes it.

But as cool as an eclipse is, he warns it’s not worth eye damage — and looking directly at the sun is never a good idea.

Here’s his guide to viewing the eclipse in Edmonton.

Don’t miss it!

In Edmonton, the moon will first start to overlap the sun at 10:24 a.m. and will finish up at 12:49 p.m. That means the time of greatest overlap, McCurdy says, is at 11:35 a.m. So if you don’t have much time, go between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.  

Be safe

Looking directly at the sun is a bad idea — and an eclipse is no exception.

“Great care must be taken,” McCurdy warns. “Imagine a burner on high, with a pot on the burner but it’s not covering the entire burner, well, the edges are still going to burn you.”

You can buy eclipse glasses, or use special #14 welder’s glass, though McCurdy warns those can be hard to find.

Go to a viewing party

There are several viewing parties happening in the city, where you can get your eclipse on in the company of experts. The Telus World of Science is opening at 10 a.m. and will have all of their appropriate telescopes ready for viewing. Members of the Astronomy Club will also be bringing extra telescopes.

MacEwan University will also have several telescopes and eclipse lenses set up in front of the clock tower, ready for the public.

Watch it indirectly

One of the best ways to watch an eclipse if you don’t have protective glasses or a telescope is to watch it indirectly, McCurdy says. Watch where the sun filters through the leaves of a tree and look at the spots of light on the ground.

“The spots on the ground will all have little crescent shapes that mimic the apparent shape of the sun,” McCurdy says.

You can also create the effect yourself by filtering light through any household object with holes in it—like a colander—and watching the flecks of sun on the ground.

Catch the next one

If you missed out this time around, don’t despair. Eclipses aren’t actually that rare, it’s just unusual for them to happen over populated areas. You can join the league of eclipse hunters who travel the globe looking for the next one, or just stay put and wait awhile: there’s a total eclipse coming to Edmonton in 2044. Consider booking off the third week of August now.

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