'It's going to be extremely cool': New Brunswickers prepare for eclipse

Total solar eclipse 2017: Read CBC's complete coverage

The skies will begin to darken at about 2:45 this afternoon across New Brunswick as the province experiences a partial eclipse of the sun.

It's got a lot of people interested.

Curt Nason is the Secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, New Brunswick Centre and the President of the Saint John Astronomy Club.

"It's the first time we've had a total eclipse in North America for at least a large part of the United States in about four decades and we'll be getting a partial eclipse here and we haven't really had a good one here in the last 17 or 18 years," Nason said.

He said the few that have taken place have been "clouded out", but the weather for this event is promising. 

Nason said the eclipse will block out about half the sun in the western part of the province and slightly less in the north or east.

"So there's really not a whole lot of difference, it's going to be roughly the same everywhere across the province."

Take precautions

Catherine Lovekin, a professor of Physics and Astronomy at Mount Allison University, agreed the experience should be similar for all New Brunswickers.

She said the most important rule for an eclipse is to not stare directly at the sun.

"The sun even when it's partially eclipsed is still bright enough to seriously damage your eyes or if you're trying to take pictures to seriously damage your camera equipment," Lovekin said. 

"So it's really important to take proper safety precautions when you're looking at the sun."

Mount Allison University will have two telescopes open to the public with solar filters on each.

And there will be eclipse glasses available for members of the public.

Lovekin said there are a few homemade methods that allow people to look at the eclipse indirectly.

For example, using a paper plate or index card, poke a hole with a pin and the light shining through the pinhole will project an image of the sun on to a surface.

'Could cause permanent damage'

In Saint John, telescopes and eclipse viewers will be available at the Irving Nature Park and at Rockwood Park.

Curt Nason said people don't usually look into the sun and that rule should apply during the eclipse.

"Mostly people don't do that but during the eclipse you have something to look at and with the intensity dropping a bit it makes it a little bit easier and you have a tendency to want to stare at it," he said.

"But you could cause permanent damage and you wouldn't know that until several hours later because you don't have any pain receptors in the eyes." 

In Fredericton, the University of New Brunswick Physics Department is holding a viewing event at the corner of Montgomery and College Hill.

Science East also has an eclipse event planned.

In Moncton, there will be a viewing opportunity outside the Free Meeting House.

'Right in front of you'

James Upham is in charge of public programming for Resurgo Place, home of the Moncton Museum and Transportation Discovery Centre.

He said they'll host a talk by Ted Gull, from the Goddard Laboratory from NASA and the eclipse will be livestreamed.

"We'll be showing the live broadcast of the eclipse on the ceiling of the Free Meeting House which I think is going to look pretty cool because again you'll just look up and you don't glasses for that or anything," Upham said.

"You can just look up and you get to watch as it's sort of approaching and then you head outside and you see the real deal happening in real time, right in front of you."

'Extremely cool'

Upham said some people are disappointed the full eclipse won't be visible in New Brunswick, but they shouldn't be.

"You are going to watch the moon move between you and the sun and blot out part of the sun for a fairly sizeable chunk of the afternoon... as far as astronomical events go, this is the kind of thing which would have literally terrified your great, great, great, great, great grandparents," said Upham.

"It's going to be extremely cool."

Parts of New Brunswick will see a full eclipse on April 8, 2024.