Monday, August 14, 2017

Partial eclipse to darken the skies over Montreal

The partial solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st, will darken 60 percent of the sun over Montreal.
On Monday, August 21, 2017, a narrow swath of North America, from southern Oregon to the Carolinas, will be treated to a very rare celestial phenomenon:  A total eclipse of the sun will occur on this date, starting on the Pacific Coast at 9:06AM PDT and exiting the Atlantic Seaboard at 4:06PM EDT. The eclipse will produce total darkness for a period of one to three minutes along a 70 mile (113km) wide path stretching diagonally across the US from Oregon to South Carolina. The percentage of sun covered by the moon will decrease rapidly as you move away from the main path. Here in Montreal, our partial eclipse of the sun will start at 1:21PM, reaching close to 60 percent coverage by 2:38PM and ending by 3:12PM. Across southern Canada, the amount of sun covered will vary from 90 percent in Vancouver, to 70 percent in Toronto and less than 50 percent across Atlantic Canada. 

A narrow path of total darkness will sweep across the US from coast to coast during the solar eclipse.
Residents in cities along the path of totality are preparing for a massive influx of people coming to view the rare event. Gridlock is expected on the more than 20 interstates that crisscross the path. Over 200 million residents live within a day’s drive of the path of totality. Hotels along the path have been booked for well over a year for this date. 

If crowds aren’t your thing, you can watch the event live on your computer or mobile device, streamed by NASA at   NASA also has an entire website devoted to the eclipse,

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has a list of viewing events planned from coast to coast. The list can be accessed on their website,

 A reminder to those who plan on watching the eclipse live and in person, make certain you use protective eyewear. Staring directly into the sun does damage to your retinas and can result in permanent vision loss. More information on eyewear can be found here

 With darkness lasting for up to three minutes at each location along the path of totality, the sudden loss of daylight can drop temperatures by as much as 10 degrees. It can also play havoc with wildlife, creating confusion, albeit for a short period of time. According to NASA, eclipses occur due to the special coincidence of the moon and the sun being the same angular size. The sun is 400 times wider than the moon, but it is also 400 times farther away, so both coincidentally appear to be the same size in our sky. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon crosses the path between the sun and the earth. This happens, on average, once every 18 months, with locations varying around the world. The last total eclipse visible in Montreal was on February 26, 1979. I was in 7th grade at the time in Verdun and very excited, to say the least. The school chose to keep students indoors, however, and the day was cloudy, limiting the effects in Montreal. The next total eclipse visible in the US and Canada will not occur until April 8, 2024, traveling from Texas northeast to New England. It will pass right over Montreal.  Let’s hope for a sunny day!

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