News / Winnipeg

Total solar eclipse of the heart: Avid astronomer reflects on his first eclipse in Manitoba

On Aug. 21, parts of the United States will see the first total solar eclipse since 1979. It will appear as a partial eclipse in Canada.

Mike Kentrianakis on his first venture to see an eclipse in Lundar, Manitoba.

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Mike Kentrianakis on his first venture to see an eclipse in Lundar, Manitoba.

Mike Kentrianakis has spent his life chasing eclipses.

They’ve brought him to a boat in the Pacific Ocean and an airplane flying to the path of totality—and it all started in a snowy farmer’s field in Lundar, Man.

On Aug. 21, Kentrianakis — and parts of the United States — will see the first total solar eclipse since 1979. It will appear as a partial eclipse in Canada.

Before 20 eclipse viewings and a career at the American Astronomical Society, Kentrianakis, who is from New York, spent his time reading about astronomy.

“I was insatiable,” he said. “And when I read about eclipses, I was taken aback by the way they were describing it. They were no longer explaining it scientifically.”

The scientists didn’t use tangible descriptions about size and shape, he said.

“They started using adjectives like ‘this is the most awesome spectacle you’ll ever see in your life.’”

That thirst for information meant reading the science section of the newspaper every week, where Kentrianakis found out about a group of scientists and amateur astronomers flying to Manitoba to see the eclipse.

They had one space left, which 14-year-old Kentrianakis was able to fill. The group flew to Winnipeg, and after some last-minute changes they took a bus to Lundar, where a farmer cleared snow for the group with a bulldozer.  

And from that field Kentrianaki watched his first total solar eclipse.

Then he was hooked.

“Seeing that sun — and the moon — what it does to it is just amazing, so amazing, so amazing to see,” Kentrianakis said.

“It’s not about a picture, or a description, or words. It’s a feeling. It’s not about anything else. It’s a feeling.”  

Next week Kentrianakis will travel to Carbondale, Ill., which is where he’ll watch the upcoming eclipse.

“If I could have the whole world come see it, I would,” he said. “I want everyone to look up.”

Solar eclipse 2017

On Aug. 21, a 70 per cent solar eclipse will be visible in Manitoba.

In Winnipeg, the eclipse will begin at 11:40 a.m., with the maximum eclipse at 12:57 p.m., and will end at 2:15 p.m.

Since the sun will never be fully obstructed in Manitoba, there’s no safe time to look at it, unless you’re wearing eclipse glasses.

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