Solar eclipse open house offers view of a lifetime

Observatory with Karun
UVic physics and astronomy instructor Karun Thanjavur has organized an eclipse open house Aug. 21 at the UVic Observatory. Credit: Suzanne Ahearne, UVic.

The UVic Observatory is hosting a solar eclipse open house that will allow the public to safely and clearly view the eclipse.

The moon passes between the Earth and sun every 18 months. But on Aug. 21, for the first time since 1979, the shadow cast will be visible across a band of the North American continent as a total eclipse.

“During the total eclipse, the sun, moon and Earth will be lined up so perfectly that the sun will be blocked out completely when viewed from a band approximately 80 kilometers wide called the ‘Path of Totality,’ which will stretch from Oregon south eastwards to South Carolina,” says Karun Thanjavur, an instructor in the Physics & Astronomy Department at UVic.

“Here in Victoria, we will have a partial solar eclipse with 90 per cent coverage, so the shape of the sun will be a beautiful thin crescent. However, you will need protective eclipse glasses or specialized telescopes with filters to safely observe this spectacular astronomical event.”

In Victoria, the eclipse will begin at 9:08 a.m., reaching maximum coverage at 10:20 a.m. and ending at 11:38 a.m. The observatory will lend eclipse glasses and have special solar telescopes set up that project an image of the sun on a small white screen. UVic astronomers will be available to answer questions.

People are welcome to drop in throughout the morning, but capacity is limited to 100 people at a time. The event is free and no pre-registration is necessary.

Find more information on the UVic Observatory Open House. Read about the solar eclipse, safe viewing practices and suggested eclipse glasses at the NASA Solar Eclipse 2017 website and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC).