The total solar eclipse is almost here!
No need to be an astronomy nerd to check out one of the coolest sky events for a long time, here’s a primer on how to safely enjoy the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21.
GIANT DISCLAIMER: WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE IF YOU BREAK YOUR EYES BY STARING AT THE SUN. PLEASE FOLLOW SAFETY INFORMATION CAREFULLY.
First off, what does a total solar eclipse look like?
(Photo: Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be)
oooOOOooooo pretty! So we’ll be able to see that from here in Victoria?! Well, no. But it’ll still be cool, I promise!
The view above is only visible in what’s called the “path of totality”, a relatively thin path that will go right through the USA from west to east.
As you can see by that map, we’re not in the path of totality – that passes south of us through the middle of Oregon. We’ll see the moon cover about 90% of the sun.
Here’s how it’ll look for us (with times):
How to enjoy it from Victoria
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Victoria will be set up on top of Mt. Tolmie from about 8:30am-11:30am. Feel free to drop by to watch the spectacle up-close through their solar telescopes!
We’ve had a couple of partial (moon only crossing partially in front of the sun) solar eclipses visible from Victoria in the past decade. Not that the weather cooperated.
Here’s one of my shots from the one in 2014, which happened on a mainly cloudy day:
And from 2012…on an even cloudier day:
But what if you’re not content seeing the sun partially covered, and you want to get to that path of totality?
Well, you’re not alone! TONS of people are making the trek to the path, self included! Before getting into the details of how to best do that, here’s some context of how rare this opportunity is (click on the dates to go to the Wikipedia page for the eclipse.)
February 26, 1979: The last total eclipse relatively easy to get to from Victoria
October 14, 2023: Next partial eclipse visible from Victoria
April 8, 2024: Total eclipse visible from eastern North America (it’s a long drive, but you could do it!)
August 23, 2044: Next total eclipse relatively easy to get to from Victoria
***That’s 65 years between the last easy one and the next one.***
It’s not even that tough of a trip if you take that Monday off! Catch the Coho ferry on Sunday, August 20 at 6:10am, 10:30am, 3:00pm, or 7:30pm and drive the 4 hours to Portland and stay the night there. Monday, drive an hour south into the path of totality to hopefully catch clear skies for the eclipse, and then 5 hours back to Port Angeles. Because the eclipse is in the morning, you can make it back for either the 5:20pm or 9:30pm boats back to Victoria that night. Yeah, it’s a couple long days of driving, but it’s not like you get this opportunity very often! I suggest Portland because it’s probably your best bet for actually finding a place to stay. Everything actually in the path of totality either booked up months/years ago (seriously) or are extremely expensive, so you should probably just aim for Portland and go from there. We’re heading down to Eugene and then backtracking north through wherever has the best chance of clear skies that morning.
Here’s a closer look at where to watch it in Oregon:
Alright, now some super-important stuff. DON’T BREAK YOUR EYES!
Never look directly at the eclipse!
If you want to look at the eclipse, you’ll need some kind of eye protection. Something like these super cool glasses, which you can order from various places online:
If you’ll be using a camera or telescope, don’t just look through the viewfinder/eyepiece, you’ll need to check into proper filters for your gear.
A few helpful sites in case you want further reading:
That’s all I’ve got! Cross your fingers for clear sky! Have questions or additional info I should add? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – and I definitely want you to pass along photos and stories if you check it out!
PS: Boy am I going to get mocked by everyone here at the Rock Research Centre for this incredibly nerdy post…
Need something to listen to while you stare at the sun? This’ll be what I have on.