Where, when and how to watch the solar eclipse in Canada

Jonathan Rumley
This photo taken on March 9, 2016, shows a total solar eclipse in Belitung, Indonesia. Another total solar eclipse will take place across various parts of the U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017. Photo from The Associated Press.

On Monday, a rare astronomical event will present an awe-inspiring experience in North America and Canadians will be treated to part of the action.

The so-called Great American Total Solar Eclipse will span the entire continental United States. From Oregon to South Carolina, the moon will move in front of the sun for a couple of minutes, blocking its light and creating a path of totality where a corona can be seen.

When this happens, the sky will darken, resulting in an ideal setting for observing stars and planets while also creating confusion for animals that may be briefly fooled into believing it is suddenly nighttime in the middle of the day.

The NASA website says the lunar shadow will enter the U.S. at 12:05 p.m. ET near Lincoln City, Ore. At 1:16 p.m., the totality will begin in the same location.

Parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina will all experience a total eclipse. The experience will end at 2:48 p.m. in Charleston and the lunar shadow will leave the U.S. at 4:09 p.m.

During it’s longest time, the total eclipse will last for about two minutes and 40 seconds.

NASA calls this one of nature’s most awe-inspiring events, but Canadians won’t get the exact same experience as their southern neighbours. Because the path of totality doesn’t cross through the Great White North, people in Canada will only be able to witness a partial solar eclipse.

A partial solar eclipse means the sun will still be covered by the moon, but not entirely. There will still be a sight to see, it just won’t be as dramatic as it would be under the path of totality. The majority of the U.S. will have this similar view of the sun seeming to disappear before our eyes.


Views from Canada

British Columbia will get the closest experience to a total eclipse, especially the further south you go. Vancouver and Victoria should be able to experience a nearly 90 per cent eclipse, while much of the rest of the province will be around 80 per cent or less.

Southern Alberta should also be able to get a good view of the event, with 80 per cent of the eclipse available to watchers in some areas.

Much of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario should be able to see a 70 per cent eclipse, including Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Toronto, which is quite close to the experience you would have in New York City.

This image provides details on where and when to watch the partial solar eclipse in Canada. Photo from the Canadian Space Agency.

The eclipse will be closer to 60 per cent for people in Ottawa and Montreal, dropping to 50 per cent in Atlantic Canada, which is similar to what you would witness if you were in northern Mexico. In fact, most parts of Canada should be able to experience at least a 50 per cent partial eclipse.

Thousands of people travel to experience solar eclipses whenever they are available, and the same is true for this event. Millions of people are expected to observe this incredible moment and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity by watchers has been predicted by some.

This eclipse is especially significant because the last time a total eclipse crossed the U.S. mainland in its entirety was 38 years ago in 1979.

But remember, looking directly into the sun can damage your eyesSpecial safety glasses are available and recommended for those wishing to protect their eyesight. But watch out for fake glasses, as some counterfeits have been reported in recent days.