York U astronomers excited for upcoming total eclipse of the Sun

The upcoming total eclipse of the Sun, on Aug. 21, is already generating excitement with York University astronomers. To witness it as a total eclipse, Canadians will have to head south to the United States, though it will be visible as a 70 per cent partial eclipse from Toronto, Ont.

The last total solar eclipse to encompass parts of Canada was 38 years ago and that was mid-winter, say York U experts.

Faculty of Science Dean Ray Jayawardhana safely observes a total eclipse of the sun. He was on location in Turkey.

“Even in this era of live-streaming, it’s worth making the effort to see a total solar eclipse in person,” says Professor Ray Jayawardhana, astrophysicist and dean of the Faculty of Science. “It’s an incredible and immersive experience, one that you’re likely to remember for the rest of your life. Photographs and video can’t fully convey the sense of wonder.”

Eclipse of the sun

Jayawardhana ventured across the globe to see two previous total eclipses of the Sun, one in Turkey in 2006 and another in 2008 when he traveled to a remote corner of the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia, enduring a 16-hour off-road trek in an old van.

For those who cannot head south, York U will mount a Solar Fair for the eclipse, from noon to 4pm on Aug. 21, to allow people to come and safely view the partial eclipse with solar glasses and telescopes.

“This is a must see event. The next total solar eclipse to similarly be readily available to people in the United States and Canada is not until 2024,” says Astronomer and Faculty of Science Professor Paul Delaney.

There will also be live streaming of the totality of the eclipse and science related demonstrations. Safety is paramount as looking at the Sun directly at any time is dangerous.

More information on solar eclipse safety can be found on the NASA website.

“The August 21 total eclipse is likely to be among the most watched in recent history since it will be relatively easy for tens of millions to people to reach its path of totality,” says Jayawardhana.

To see the path of totality, view the map.

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