Rare solar eclipse Aug. 21
North Bay Astronomy Club setting up at waterfront near The Boat to watch moon cover sun
The North Bay Astronomy Club will be setting up at the Lake Nipissing waterfront for a rare solar eclipse Aug. 21.
Residents will be able to view the early afternoon event through one of a half-dozen safety-shielded telescopes or borrow special glasses “so people don’t burn their retinas out,” said Bill Montague, club president.
The last time a total solar eclipse was visible from anywhere in North America was 1918 and the next opportunity is years away.
North Bay, however, won’t get to enjoy the full eclipse, with this region only able to experience about 70 per cent of the moon covering the sun.
It’s expected to begin at about 1:10 p.m. and peak at 2:28 with the last partial lunar blockage at 3:43 p.m.
Montague said several club members will be on hand to field questions about eclipses and astronomy in general.
Residents in Western Canada will see about 85 per cent blockage, the best in this country, while a wide ban of the mid-west and central United States will experience the total solar eclipse.
The club had canceled this weekend’s regular ‘Star Party’ to view the annual Perseid meteor shower, which is expected to peak Saturday and Sunday.
Montague said they had just held their annual Gateway Star Party two weeks ago in South River, a late change from their usual gathering in Marten River, and it was getting a bit much knowing the eclipse was coming too.
But, he said, the “beautiful dark skies with no ambient light” experienced on Bob and Lil Chapman’s farm in South River, along with their private observatory he built, was appreciated by the two dozen members who took part.
They had more than 70 for the event last year in Marten River, but the late change in location left quite a few people unable to alter course.
He said several club members are heading to various places in the United States to take in the total solar covering, noting they are going to viewing points in Arizona, Wyoming and Tennessee.
“It’s not going to happen for a long time (as far as being visible from this continent),” Montague said, adding there are groups that chase eclipses all over the world.
The next eclipse visible from North Bay is a partial-cover “annular eclipse” event in 2023.
He said people can get updates about the eclipse on the club’s website at gatewaytotheuniverse.org.