The total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21 will be the centre of attention for most of North America. The rare cosmic event will have the sun and moon line up, appearing the same size. Although total solar eclipses happen just once every 18 months or so, NASA says that a total eclipse hasn’t crossed the entire continent, coast-to-coast, since 1918.
In Canada, a total solar eclipse can’t be observed. The viewing site with the most eclipse coverage will be in Vancouver or the southwestern-most areas of BC, whose residents will experience 86% coverage. The optimal viewing sites within the path of totality will be between Oregon and South Carolina.
Path of the 2017 solar eclipse, created with Eclipse 2017 Android App, Geodata from OpenStreetMap Zoom 4. Source: Creative Commons.
Even brief viewing of a partial solar eclipse without protection can cause damage. Because the light is dimmer in a partial eclipse, our eyes don't receive the feedback mechanism from our brains to remind us that this light is harmful. Even viewing a partial eclipse with polarized sunglasses on can give you the equivalent of a welder's painful flash burn on your cornea in a matter of a few seconds. As well, in less than 15 to 20 seconds, a hole can be burned into your eye’s macula. Although painless, you could be left with a permanent central spot of blur in your vision.
We strongly advise that anyone planning to view the eclipse do so through a pair of solar filter viewing glasses. These protective glasses allow you to look directly at the sun before and after totality. In Canada, we will never see totality. If you are travelling to the path of totality to view eclipse, only in the state of totality it is safe to remove glasses and view with the naked eye. Remember, Canada will never see this, so do not look at the eclipse with the naked eye. Sky watchers should never look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even when it is only partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or permanent blindness.
Because of the danger viewing an eclipse poses to your vision, the safest way to experience it is on television. If you choose to view the eclipse outside, here are the safest ways to watch with solar filters/viewers:
For more information or to find out if your local Visique clinic has solar viewing glasses available, visit our site or nearest location.