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‘Once-in-a-lifetime’: Buzz building in Sudbury for solar eclipse

Science North holding viewing party, while Sudbury Astronomy Club members travelling into eclipse’s path of totality
2017 Total Solar Eclipse by NASA Goddard Photo and Video is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Buzz has been building about the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse that will happen in North America on April 8, and it’s no different among Sudburians.

The eclipse will be visible here in Sudbury, but it won’t reach totality. 

As such, most members of the Sudbury Astronomy Club will be travelling out of town, into the path of the total eclipse, including Colin DuRochers, the club’s outreach co-ordinator.

He and other club members will be setting up on private property in the Niagara area to view the eclipse. The Niagara region has actually declared a state of emergency as it prepares to welcome up to one million visitors for the celestial event.

Other Sudbury Astronomy Club members are “actually going south of the border, down toward Mexico and the central United States for it, where there’s a better chance of clear skies,” DuRochers said.

“This is a once-in-a lifetime occasion,” he added. “I mean, if you can go into it, it's something you really want to go see.”

According to information provided by Science North, in Greater Sudbury, the eclipse will start at 2:05 p.m. April 8 and reach its maximum at 3:19 p.m. At the eclipse maximum, 90 per cent of the sun’s diameter will be eclipsed by the moon.

This upcoming solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. A solar eclipse occurs when a new Moon passes in front of the Sun, casting a shadow on the Earth.

Some areas experience a lighter shadow, the penumbra, while others experience the full shadow, the umbra.

Science North staff scientist Olathe MacIntyre is looking forward to experiencing the April 8 eclipse with Sudburians at the science centre. Supplied

“You can actually see the sun's corona, which is pretty cool,” said Science North staff scientist Olathe MacIntyre. “The stars come out, you can see planets. Even here in Sudbury, with 90 per cent of the sun covered, we'll definitely be able to see Venus and we might even be able to see Jupiter.”

The path of the shadow changes with each eclipse. Although the Sun and Moon align roughly every 18 months, Ontario last witnessed a total solar eclipse in 1979, and the next won't occur here until 2106.

MacIntyre explains that partial solar eclipses do happen more frequently, including one that just happened this past October. 

Science North will be holding a viewing party on the afternoon of Monday, April 8, with a full slate of indoor and outdoor activities (weather permitting). And with kids off school locally due to the eclipse, it’s the perfect time to bring them out to experience the natural phenomenon.

Activities include solar telescope viewing, indirect viewing with pinhole viewers and colanders and more, direct viewing with special eclipse glasses, a livestream in the Vale Cavern and more.

If you’re viewing the eclipse on your own, it’s important not to look at it with the naked eye, as this could cause eye damage.

For anyone interested in securing their pair of eclipse glasses ahead of time, they are for sale at Science North gift shop for $3. 

Alternatively, visitors who purchase a general admission ticket or members who reserve their ticket on April 8 will receive one pair of glasses (while supplies last). 

“If you don't have the eclipse glasses, definitely do not use sunglasses — it doesn't matter how many pairs you stack, that is not a safe option,” MacIntyre said.

“So you definitely want to use eclipse glasses also, that are ISO certified. So you might be able to find some glasses online that are not certified. Avoid those. 

“Also a really great way to experience this eclipse is indirectly. So you're going to notice things like it getting a bit darker, like Venus and Jupiter coming out. But also you can project the eclipse, which is pretty cool. All you need for that is a sheet of paper or cardboard with a pinhole in it. So you can make a whole pinhole projector. There's instructions for that on the Canadian Space Agency.”

While Science North is hosting a viewing event, MacIntyre said she does recommend travelling into the path of totality if you can.

“I know we're hosting an event here, and we'd love to have you here," she said. "But if it's possible for you to travel to the totality, it's definitely an awesome experience, and definitely worth travelling for.”

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. 


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Heidi Ulrichsen

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