Solar eclipse 2024: Here’s what you need to know ahead of the big show

The SA says it will provide viewing glasses for the total solar eclipse on April 8
Photo: Itel Sapozhnikov
A pair of the ISO 12312-2 certified solar viewing glasses.

Space writer and Algonquin College professor Elizabeth Howell will be travelling in hopes of seeing for the first time the total solar eclipse, which is expected to cross over North America on April 8.

“My husband and I will be heading out to the Toronto region by train to try and catch totality out there,” said Howell.

Howell is a staff writer of spaceflight at Space.com and also teaches in the applied sciences and engineering technology department at Algonquin College.

She found her passion for space when she saw Apollo 13 for the first time as a young teenager.

I was thinking that’s really amazing, this team coming together and rescuing these people. I want to learn more,” said Howell.

The Algonquin College campus will remain open during the day of the event.

The Algonquin Students’ Association will be hosting an event where it will hand out certified solar eclipse viewing glasses in the E-building at 10 a.m.

“We’ll be giving away glasses on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last,” said Alain Cyr-Russo, the senior manager of student life at the SA.

Perth and Pembroke campuses will also provide solar glasses for students to pick up on the day of the eclipse.

Paul Gardner, the director of Risk Management at the college, sent a memo to the college community on March 28 about the eclipse.

“While the eclipse promises to be a spectacular event, our concern is that the college community takes precautions to keep themselves safe,” said Gardner in the memo.

The memo states that ISO 12312-2 certified solar viewing glasses are recommended in order to observe the eclipse safely.

“It is never safe to look directly at the sun without certified eye protection, especially during a solar eclipse,” Gardner said in the memo. “Viewing the eclipse without protection can result in severe eye damage or permanent blindness.”

The memo sent by Risk Management included a link to instructions of how to build your own solar eclipse projector box.

According to Ottawa Public Health, the eclipse in Ottawa will not be a total eclipse due to the fact that the maximum coverage will be around 99 per cent.

“Because the moon’s shadow is so, so narrow, only a tiny part of the Earth gets to experience it,” said Howell. “So clearly at Algonquin College, that location, unfortunately, is not completely in the shadow of the moon.”

Ottawa Public Library branches across the city handed out free solar eclipse glasses starting March 28.

“We as a branch had almost 6,000 glasses, and they were gone in 25 minutes,” said Dave Froome from the Nepean Centerpointe library branch.

Dave Froome from the Centerpointe branch of the Ottawa Public Library
Dave Froome from the Nepean Centrepointe branch of the Ottawa Public Library. Photo credit: Itel Sapozhnikov

Froome said all library branches in Ottawa experienced the same result.

“It was a really, really cool initiative. Obviously I wish we could have done more,” said Froome. “It was a really cool thing that we were able to do to help the community.”

Froome said the giveaway especially helps parents give their children a chance to participate safely. Ottawa schools are closed on the day of the eclipse.

Although Ottawa will not be able to see totality, Howell said people travelling further south have a better chance to view the full effect of the eclipse.

Howell said Cornwall, Kingston, part of the greater Toronto, Niagara Falls and many places along the Highway 401 will be able to experience the total solar eclipse.

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