Total Solar Eclipse Happening on April 8

Have you heard the buzz about the upcoming total solar eclipse?

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and parts of Canada. This is big news given that about one in 10,000 people ever get to witness such a thing in their lifetime.

A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the sun and earth, completely blocking the face of the sun. The sky will darken as if it were dawn or dusk.

To witness the total solar eclipse, you will need to be in a narrow zone called the path of totality. In Canada, the solar eclipse’s path of totality will pass through some cities and towns in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, plunging them into darkness for a few minutes. For example, in Toronto, it is expected to be a near-total solar eclipse between 2:04 p.m. and 4:31 p.m., with the peak happening at 3:19 p.m. That’s when most of the sun’s light will be covered by the moon. People outside the path of totality will be able to observe a partial solar eclipse, during which the sun is not hidden in totality.

In Saskatchewan, as with other regions outside the path of totality, some residents may experience a partial solar eclipse but will not witness the dramatic effects of totality, such as the sudden drop in temperature, the visibility of the Sun’s corona, or the appearance of stars and planets in the daytime sky. Nonetheless, the partial eclipse can still provide an engaging opportunity for education and public engagement with astronomy. In fact, members of the public are invited to the USask Observatory to watch it safely and learn from experts.

A reminder to stay cautious when hoping to catch a glimpse. Looking at the sun without the proper eclipse glasses or solar filter can lead to serious, sometimes permanent, eye damage. The intense sunlight can lead to burns on the retina and, in extreme scenarios, blindness. The retina does not have pain receptors, so people who look at the sun will not know their eyes are damaged until it is too late.

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