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McMaster to offer solar glasses for April eclipse with ideal sight lines in Hamilton-Niagara area

Ahead of a rare celestial event in which viewing angles will be ideal across parts of eastern Canada, McMaster University is partnering with local libraries and schools to make solar eclipse safe-viewing glasses available.

The total solar eclipse will darken skies in several Ontario cities and towns on April 8, with some of the best sight lines in Niagara Falls and Fort Erie, bringing complete darkness for a few minutes.

The department of physics and astronomy specs, made up of aluminized polyester, will be available on select dates in Hamilton, Haldimand County, Burlington, Six Nations, Brantford and Norfolk between Feb. 22 and March 4.


McMaster professor and university scholar Laura Parker says about a half-million of the glasses have been purchased and Hamilton will be in a good position when the eclipse arrives with maximum effect around 3:18 p.m.

She reveals that neighbouring cities like London and Kitchener and Toronto won’t get a ‘total’ solar eclipse thus not the full effect Hamilton and Niagara will see.

“It just will not completely block it, so you’ll always have at least a little bit of the sun that is visible to you,” Parker said.

“Whereas here in Hamilton, we will have this very brief period where the sun’s completely blocked and on either side of that.”

The Canadian Space Agency says looking directly at the sun without appropriate protection can lead to serious problems such as partial or complete loss of eyesight.

Experts stress that the danger of looking directly at the sun is not any different when there is a total solar eclipse than it would be on any other day of the year, it’s just that one is more tempted to look up when there is a total solar eclipse.

The moon passing between the sun and the Earth and aligning perfectly at one point will be the source of blocked sunlight, according to Dr. Elaina Hyde, director at the Allan I. Carswell Observatory at York University.

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Hyde says the occurrence will have a “very narrow path” between 100 and 115 kilometres wide and only a very small region in the province will get the full effect of something that won’t happen again for over 100 years.

“It actually blocks the light from the sun, and you get that cool white, sort of outline around the moon, which is the sun’s corona,” she explained.

A larger portion of Ontario will only be able to experience a partial eclipse, expected to last somewhere between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on April 8.

Hyde says Hamilton’s view will be quite good, but Niagara Falls will be an ideal spot to see it.

“Niagara Falls is going to be very, very popular…. Everywhere south of around Hamilton is going to be quite good too,” she said.

“So the shadow-casting only occurs for a short amount of time and sort of traces out this little path going from Mexico up through the U.S. and into Ontario.”

National Geographic has already tagged the spot as the “most picturesque” place to view the eclipse with ideal vantage points and the “iconic waterfalls thundering in the background.”

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati said he was bracing for a large contingent of tourists, potentially a million, to enter the city that day.

A city spokesperson says it’s working with partners to plan supporting events around the eclipse, which likely will include entertainment.

Several Ontario public school boards, including those in Hamilton and Niagara Region, have rescheduled professional activity (PA) days to give students a day off for the early April event.

McMaster’s glasses will initially be available at these locations after the following dates:

  • Hamilton Public Libraries – Feb. 22
  • Haldimand Public Libraries – Feb. 22
  • McMaster University Libraries – Feb. 26
  • Burlington Public Libraries – March 4
  • Six Nations Public Library – March 4
  • Brantford Public Libraries – March 4
  • Norfolk Public Libraries – TBD

After the April event, the next solar eclipse visible from Canadian soil will be in 2039, when the path of totality cuts through the very northern part of Yukon.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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