Perhaps the most anticipated cosmic event of 2017, outer space enthusiasts are marking calendars for a total solar eclipse this summer.
But those viewing the eclipse in Toronto will get just seven-tenths the experience their neighbours to the south will enjoy.
The moon will pass between the sun and earth on August 21, which has astronomers at Toronto’s York University particularly excited.
In Toronto, it will be visible as a 70 per cent partial eclipse, though experiencing the total eclipse is possible by traveling south to the United States.
The path of totality stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. According to Space.com, during a total solar eclipse, “the disk of the moon blocks out the last sliver of light from the sun, and the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, becomes visible.”
“Even in this era of live-streaming, it’s worth making the effort to see a total solar eclipse in person,” says Ray Jayawardhana, astrophysicist and Dean of the Faculty of Science at York.
“It’s an incredible and immersive experience, one that you’re likely to remember for the rest of your life,” said Jayawardhana. “Photographs and video can’t fully convey the sense of wonder.”
York experts added it has been 38 years since a total solar eclipse was seen in parts of Canada.
Professor Paul Delaney said the next one that will be available to people in the U.S. and Canada is set for 2024, so it’s a must-see event on August 21.
Below: CBC Special: Solar Eclipse Over Winnipeg – Feb. 1979
York will host a Solar Fair that day from noon until 4 p.m. to give spectators a chance to view the partial eclipse safely with the use of solar glasses and telescopes, as it is dangerous to look directly at the sun.
The fair will also offer livestreaming of the totality of the eclipse.
With this being the first solar eclipse in North America since 2008, today’s role of social media will have a significant impact on the event.
Jayawardhana said the upcoming total eclipse, “is likely to be among the most watched in recent history” due to its path of totality being easily accessible to tens of millions of people.
Social media was science fiction on February 26, 1979, the last time the United States experienced a total solar eclipse. That event was the subject of what is considered one of the best American essays of the twentieth century, called, simply, “Total Eclipse”. Writer Annie Dillard, who viewed the eclipse from Washington’s Yakima Valley, had an apocalyptic take on the event.
“I pray you will never see anything more awful in the sky,” she said of the eclipse, adding: “I heard screams”.
For more information on safety precautions and events in the U.S., visit NASA’s website.
Below: 1979 Solar Eclipse – ABC News Coverage. (Excerpts from an ABC News Special Report that aired at 11:00-11:29 a.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 26, 1979 as the last total solar eclipse for North America until August 21, 2017 swept across the Pacific Northwest.)
(Update: Peak time for viewing the eclipse in Toronto is 2:32 pm).