August 21, 2017
A few thousand solar eclipse enthusiasts braved the blazing heat Monday afternoon to watch the rare event unfold under clear skies at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.
Members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) set up a dozen telescopes with solar filters around the museum property for the public to peer through as the partial eclipse progressed.
Experts confirmed the event began at 1:17 — with 61 per cent of the sun covered by the moon at the peak at 2:35 — and ended at 3:48.
“This is monumental. This is historical, just (being) with everybody here,” said Michele Lanoue, who arrived several hours early with her friend to get one of the 2,000 safety filters that were handed out by the museum and RASC. “I enjoy the city of Ottawa. I enjoy doing all kinds of activities for the (Canada) 150 right now, so this is just another thing on my bucket list — to do this and experience this with other people.
Chris Teron, an amateur astronomer with RASC, fielded questions from eager visitors excited to better understand what they were about to see.
“This afternoon we will see the first tiny piece of the sun missing,” he explained. “And gradually that will get bigger and bigger until 61 per cent of the sun will be eclipsed by the moon, so we will see a crescent sun just like a crescent moon.”
Teron said that in addition to wearing safe viewing glasses, the public could also see the eclipse in other ways, including using a homemade pinhole viewer — essentially a piece of paper or cone with a pin hole that projects an image of the sun onto the ground. Children were given markers to colour their own pinhole cameras inside the museum.