News Story

Upcoming Solar Eclipse - April 7 & 8

What is happening on April 8?
There will be a total solar eclipse visible throughout parts of the United States and north-east Canada.

What is a total solar eclipse?
A total solar eclipse happens when the Sun is totally blocked by the Moon.

Why is the total solar eclipse a special event? Is it rare?
As the Moon and Earth rotate around each other and around the Sun, every so often the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth. A total covering of the Sun by the Moon is only visible in a narrow strip called the path of totality. (Think about holding up your hand to block off some annoying lightbulb. It might give you some relief but not necessarily the person sitting next to you.) As a rough estimate, any place on Earth experiences a total solar eclipse about every 375 years. The last time a total solar eclipse was seen in Ontario was in 1979 and the next one will be in 2099.

Can I see the April 8 eclipse in Ottawa?
Unfortunately, Ottawa is not in the path of totality. (You can see an interactive map here.) The Sun will be blocked 98.6% in Ottawa. That sounds close to 100%, but notice that our Sun is pretty large and mighty. In terms of experience, there is a big difference between totality and a partial eclipse. Somewhat more fortunately, we are less than two hours drive from the path of totality. You can make a day trip to see the spectacular totality. A few of the close-by destinations: Cornwall, Brockville, Merrickville, Gananoque, Kingston and Montreal.

Do I need special equipment to watch the eclipse?
You should never directly look at the Sun, even during a partial eclipse. Regular sunglasses are not strong enough to protect your eyes. You can get eclipse glasses in compliance with the ISO 12312-2 Standard certification to safely view the Sun during the eclipse. Visit Discover The Universe website for more information on obtaining eclipse glasses in Canada.

What is happening at Carleton?
The Physics Department at Carleton University is planning a public event on Sunday, April 7 to talk about the physics of the eclipse. We are also planning a public viewing of the partial eclipse on April 8. We will share more details very soon!

For more information and questions, you can contact Prof. Seyda Ipek via email: seydaipek atcunet [dot] carleton [dot] ca

For registration, please visit

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