President’s Message – April 2024

Posted by as President's Message

What else can I write about or even talk about other than that celestial event that took place on April 8?

I had seen the 1979 eclipse in Manitoba and the 2017 eclipse in Oregon. After 2017, all us eclipse addicts faced a difficult decision: where should we go to see the 2024 total solar eclipse? The decision wasn’t simple because of the path of this eclipse and the fact that April weather is more problematical than the August weather conditions in 2017.

In part because of the pandemic, I didn’t make arrangements for the eclipse years in advance as I had done for 2017. As 2024 dawned, I concluded it was too late to arrange a trip to Mexico or Texas for a reasonable price. I know many people in Toronto, but I felt that too many people chasing the eclipse in Hamilton and environs might complicate things. So I decided to go to Windsor, Ontario, just outside the path of totality. We have relatives there, and it would be relatively easy to cross the border there to chase the eclipse in Ohio if necessary. But it was still a big gamble, and I made sure I had other things to do to justify the trip.

As April 8 got closer, weather predictions called for clouds in southern Ontario, and when I arrived in Toronto on April 4, I was greeted with cold, cloudy and rainy weather. Two days before the eclipse as Audrey and I made our way to Windsor, the skies cleared. Things were looking more promising, but clouds were still predicted for the eclipse.

The night before, the prediction was still more promising for Ohio than the Windsor area, and Ohio locations were closer to the centreline of the eclipse, which promised a longer period of totality. I prepared to cross the border.

April 8 dawned in Windsor with blue skies. The forecast still called for clouds in the mid afternoon, when the eclipse was due to take place. The forecasts for Ohio called for longer periods of cloudiness in the afternoon, which I feared meant thicker clouds, and so I decided to stay in Canada.

Audrey and I, along with her sister and her husband, drove south from Windsor through Amherstberg into the path of totality. Many eclipse chasers in the area were already arriving in Point Pelee Park, which was closer to the centreline but involved very limited access, so I thought we might set up in Leamington. Before we got there, we found a great spot to watch the eclipse at Colchester Harbour and Beach. The RASC Windsor Centre had set up tents and telescopes there, a restaurant, coffee shop and other facilities were nearby, and scores of people were already settling in to watch the eclipse over Lake Erie.

Looking south across Lake Erie, we saw a bank of clouds that everyone hoped would stay where it was. But true to the prediction, the clouds moved our way and covered the sun as the partial phase of the eclipse began a little before 1 p.m. Fortunately, the clouds weren’t very thick.

Finally, at about 3:12 p.m., totality began. We were amongst the first to see totality that day from Canadian soil. The transition from needing eclipse glasses to full totality with the naked eye seemed to be prolonged to me, but finally we got our 90 seconds of totality and dark skies. Venus was plainly visible through the thin layer of cloud, but I don’t recall seeing Jupiter or any other celestial object. The incandescent but not overpowering glow of the Sun’s corona took centre stage.

In the moments before and after totality, the lighting of the area took on a strange hue. During totality, my viewpoint overlooking Lake Erie allowed me to see the approaching “sunset” to the west and the receding “sunrise” to the east. During this time, I took a couple of photos of the sun and of the light effects around the horizon with my iPhone, and I set up my iPad to film totality. I wanted to spend most of totality enjoying the view rather than messing with cameras.

All too soon, totality was over, and soon people started to leave. We remained for most of the rest of the eclipse to savour the incredible spectacle. By the time we got back to Windsor, all the clouds had disappeared. So had the crowds, and as a result we encountered no traffic jams.

The hours and days that followed became a gigantic debrief on this event. Who got a good view of the eclipse? Who got skunked by the weather? The evening of April 8 I joined many of you in an online Astronomy Café.

It turned out that Joe Carr, John McDonald and Bill Weir got a great look at the eclipse from their cruise ship, The Discovery Princess, and the poor weather in Texas inspired Leslie Welsh to stop in Arkansas to catch the eclipse. Thicker clouds in the Niagara region obscured the eclipse for Jill Sinkwich and Lauri Roche. Marje Welchframe saw parts of the eclipse through clouds in Kingston. The weather was much better in the Montreal area, to the delight of Randy Enkin, Chris Purse, and Brian and Nathan Hellner-Mestelman. Alex Schmid had clear skies in Sherbrooke. The clouds parted for Clayton Uyeda in New Brunswick.

Victoria Centre members’ photos of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

Back in Victoria, David Lee, Kirsten Pedersen and others entertained a good crowd at a rainy Centre of the Universe during the partial solar eclipse here.

Before I came home, I heard about RASC Executive Director Jenna Hinds’ successful eclipse trip to Illinois. A few days later I attended a meeting of the RASC Mississauga Centre in person, and I heard about more experiences along the path of totality, including the troubled weather in Texas, which also affected our good friend Peter Jedicke from the London Centre.

So the viewing conditions for the 2024 total solar eclipse turned out to be less than perfect but better than most of us could have hoped for.

Now the question arises – when is the next one? August 12, 2026, in Greenland, Iceland and Spain. In North America, the wait will go on until August 23, 2044. How long will our waits go on? Those decisions are for another time.

Astronomy Day 2024 in Victoria

Posted by as Special Events

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Royal BC Museum present

International Astronomy Day

at the Royal BC Museum and Observatory Hill, Victoria, BC, Canada

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Amazing Astronomical Activities for all Ages!

2024-PressRelease-IAD – contact Randy Enkin (email) (250) 893-9067

2024-Astronomy Day Poster – (6.4Mb PDF printable at 8.5″x11″)

Astronomy Day 2024 – event photos

May 19, 2024 – Yesterday the Victoria Centre held a highly successful IAD event at the Royal BC Museum and at the Centre of the Universe. We had big crowds taking in our presentations at the RBCM during the day, and in the evening at the Centre of the Universe.

I want to thank everyone whose great work contributed to this success, notably the volunteer team headed by Randy Enkin, with big assists from Lauri Roche and David Lee, amongst many others. I also want to thank the people at the RBCM, the Friends of the DAO, and the other groups who made Astronomy Day a success.

I also thank the Victoria Times-Colonist, which ran articles on IAD two weeks ago and yesterday, along with photos in today’s newspaper. 

Christopher Gainor, FRASC, President, Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

Royal BC Museum – 10AM to 3PMevent

675 Belleville Street, Victoria

Interactive activities outside on the plaza

  • View the Sun (video) safely through solar telescopes (weather permitting)
  • Ask an Astronomer – find answers to those questions about astronomy and space you always wanted to ask
  • Interactive activities inside in Clifford Carl Hall (Museum main level)
    • Telescope show-and-tell (video) – try out telescopes and ask questions
  • Astrophotography (video) – take photos of the night sky with your own camera and see our members’ work
  • Children and families astro crafts – kids make their own astronomy and space souvenirs
  • Ask an Astronomer – find answers to those questions about astronomy and space you always wanted to ask
  • Responsible Lighting (video) – get pointers on how to reduce your own light pollution, and feel better for it
  • UVic Astronomy & Physics – interactive astronomy for students
  • Science Venture – hands-on, minds-on science, engineering and technology learning opportunities for youth entering grades 1 through 12 (STEM). Experience the Spiro Mars Rovers (robots)!
  • Camosun College Astronomy – astronomy courses, university transfer
  • Oak Bay High & Monterey Middle schools – students, teachers and parents

Public Lectures in Newcombe Auditorium video

You Versus the Universe – Nathan Hellner-Mestelman

Nathan Hellner-Mestelman

Abstract: During our everyday lives, we donít usually think about the mind-boggling scale of the universe around us, the enormous history of our cosmos, and the epic future awaiting us. Prepare to leave our little planet behind on a quirky voyage across time and space!

Bio: Nathan Hellner-Mestelman is an impassioned astronomy nerd in Grade 11, and recent author of Cosmic Wonder: Our Place in the Epic Story of the Universe. He enjoys reciting slam poetry, playing the ukulele, and sharing the wonders of the universe with all.

The Stars – John McDonald

John McDonald

Abstract: When I was a child I was fascinated by the points of light in the sky we call stars. What are they, where did they come from and how far away are they? Are they all like our sun with planets travelling around them and are any of those planets inhabited? In this talk I will tell you some of the fascinating things astronomers have learned about stars.

Bio: John McDonald is a physicist, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta. His research was in particle physics contributing to the work at TRIUMF in Vancouver and CERN in Europe. Currently, John is enjoying retirement in Victoria and having a great time observing and photographing the sky.

North Star to Freedom – Amy Archer

Amy Archer

Abstract: What is the connection between the 100,000 people that traveled the underground railroad and the night sky? Can you imagine the logistics of using stars to guide you over such a far distance, while in immediate peril? Do you want to know how a meteor shower helped connect families of enslaved people that had been separated? From a young age Amy has thought it fascinating how the night sky could be used to navigate a people from unspeakable hardship to freedom.

Join Amy Archer to hear stories about how the night sky played a hand in helping people navigate from unspeakable hardship to freedom. The night sky is full of new discoveries waiting to be had, and there are so many stories to share of its rich history, join us as we explore vignettes about the Underground Railroad and the Night Sky.

Bio: Amy is a first generation Canadian with roots from Trinidad and Tobago, she was born in Edmonton, Alberta and has spent most of her life on the West Coast. Amy is the mother to one very inquisitive teenager, whom she is always learning from. Amy is the Vice-Chair of the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (FDAO) and has been involved with the organization for the last 7 years. Amy is constantly fascinated by the knowledge of the astronomers and can be found at most Saturday Night Star Parties either behind the scenes or looking through her favorite telescope.

Making the Most of Spilled Milk:  The Story of the Milky Way, Our Home Galaxy – Simon Smith

Simon Smith

Abstract: We live in the Milky Way galaxy, a swirling sea of old stars and young stars, bright stars and faint stars, and massive clouds of gas and dust. But where did our stars, gas, and dust come from, and how did they all arrange themselves into the soft glow of light we see splashed across the sky on a crystal clear night? In this presentation, I will share with you our best understanding of how the Milky Way formed from the chaotic early Universe, how it built up all the many stars we see around us, and its likely fate in both the near and far future of the Cosmos.

Bio: Simon is currently working towards his Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of Victoria. He studies the smallest galaxies in the Universe – known as ‘Dwarf’ galaxies – and has helped discover several of these tiny galaxies in and around our cosmic neighbourhood. Originally from the small town of Oxenden, Ontario, Simon has lived in Victoria for three years and has been a keen participant in the astronomy outreach community.


IMAX Cosmic Series – May 17-19, 2024


Centre of the Universe and the Observatory – 7:30PM to 11PMevent

The Hon. Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor looking through Chuck Filnesss' telescope

Observatory Hill, 5071 West Saanich Road, Saanich

Reserve Your Tickets (free – available May 15th) – only ticket holders will be admitted to this evening event. (Daytime events at the Museum do not require tickets!)

  • Plaskett telescope tours
  • Planetarium shows
  • Observing through telescopes
  • Virtual reality with the Rift
  • Centre of the Universe gallery
  • Children’s Activities
  • Gift shop
  • Presentation – Looking for precious metals at the end of the galactic rainbow – Dr. Trystyn Berg

Please Note:

  • All Astronomy Day activities are FREE and available to the general public.
  • Membership in RASC is not required.
  • Regular admission applies to the Royal BC Museum exhibits and IMAX Theatre.


Press Coverage

President’s Message – March 2024

Posted by as Memories & history, President's Message

Usually Victoria Centre Presidents serve two years and then move on to something else. Right now, things are a little different. Randy Enkin has just wrapped up three years as President and shifted to other jobs in the centre, including editing SkyNews.

Chris Gainor on Observatory Hill
Chris Gainor on Observatory Hill

When I agreed to return to the Centre President’s job after having served in that position from 2002 to 2004, I reflected on what has changed and not changed since those days when we managed to get by without smartphones and social media. Many members from that time are still active, some have left us, and at least one prominent member of today wasn’t even born yet.

In 2002 I succeeded David Lee as President and two years later handed off to Scott Mair. Scott had come to Victoria in 2001 to open up the Centre of the Universe at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, which during those years operated under the wing of the National Research Council.

Two decades ago, we had our monthly meetings in the basement of the Elliott Building at UVic, but we adjourned to the lounge on the fourth floor for our library, and coffee and cookies, as we still do. Astro Cafes took place at Sandy Barta’s place on Fridays and later in Bruno Quenneville’s basement. Sid Sidhu hosted beginning observers at his home in Highlands, and Bill Almond led astro imaging meetings at his observatory in Colwood.

Our Star Parties took place at the Victoria Fish and Game Association just off the Malahat. Our annual banquets happened in November at the Gorge Vale Golf Club. Astronomy Days took place at the Royal BC Museum. Many Victoria Centre members attended the 2003 RASC General Assembly in Vancouver.

Mars made its closest passage to Earth in our lifetimes in August 2003. We drew big crowds to Cattle Point for viewing the Red Planet that week. Blaire Pellatt brought sidewalk astronomy to the streets of Victoria. We lost Ernie Pffanenschmidt and John Howell in 2003.  

Celebrating RASC Victoria Centre's 90th anniversary in 2004 - George Ball, John Climenhaga and Chris Gainor cut the cake.
Celebrating RASC Victoria Centre’s 90th anniversary in 2004 – George Ball, John Climenhaga and Chris Gainor cut the cake.

Our Centre celebrated its 90th birthday in 2004 with a cake that was cut by myself and two Honorary Presidents who have since left us, George Ball and Prof. John Climenhaga. A big centre project that year was relocating George’s telescope dome and his equipment. Our Centre website had migrated the year before to a private ISP after having been hosted on the Victoria Freenet. Joe Carr succeeded David Lee as Webmaster.

In those years, the most popular discussion topic in the Victoria Centre was our desire to build a centre observatory in a time when real estate was already pricey. Early in 2004, talk turned to action when our centre formed an Observing Site Committee chaired by Dave Bennett, along with Bruno Quenneville, David Lee, Sandy Barta, and myself as members.

Four years later, the efforts of our members, including many not on the original committee, bore fruit when the Victoria Centre Observatory opened — with a big assist from the NRC — on Little Saanich Mountain near the DAO and the Centre of the Universe.

In a future message, I will discuss my involvement in the RASC in the two decades between 2004 and this spring, our Centre’s 110th anniversary. But in the meantime, my attention is shifting to a major celestial event that will take place on April 8.

Chris Gainor, President@Victoria.RASC.ca

President’s Message – Feb 2024

Posted by as President's Message

Chris Gainor on Observatory Hill - May 7, 2022
Chris Gainor on Observatory Hill

This message marks my return to the presidency of the Victoria Centre after nearly 20 years away from the job. While it is not unprecedented for someone to serve separate terms as President of the Victoria Centre, it has only happened a handful of times in our 110 years of existence.

The Victoria Centre and the RASC in general have just gone through four very difficult years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its after-effects.

We had to give up in person meetings and events for much of that time. Many in person activities returned in 2022, and last year, our monthly meetings at the University of Victoria and our annual banquet came back. One very positive legacy of the pandemic for our centre is the set of changes to our weekly Astronomy Café gatherings, which kept us going through the difficult days of lockdowns and can now can be attended in person or by Zoom.

Many people made it possible for the Victoria Centre to get through the past four years – including Reg Dunkley and Randy Enkin, who both served as President during that time, including an unprecedented three years in that office for Randy. They had help from many other people, many of whom still serve on the Centre Council. I would like to thank them all.

I’m very pleased to note that one of those members who has worked quietly and effectively in the background for many years – Alex Schmid – is receiving a long overdue recognition this year in the form of the Newton-Ball Award.

It can be argued that the Victoria Centre is now stronger and better than it was when the pandemic started in 2020. There’s Astronomy Café, much-needed updates to our constitution and governance, and continued improvements to the Victoria Centre Observatory. And many of our members, notably Lauri Roche, have worked hard to get the Friends of the DAO and the Centre of the Universe through the pandemic years.

I deserve very little credit for this great work at the Centre level, since I have been volunteering mainly at the National level over the past decade. As we all know, the pandemic landed a few direct hits on the National society that are still being absorbed, and I am continuing to help out there as Chair of the Editorial Board. Lauri and our National Reps are also doing a great job ensuring that our Centre is prominent in National affairs.

This year we can look forward to exciting events such as the April 8 solar eclipse and International Astronomy Day on May 18 at the Royal BC Museum, as well as challenges like our Star Party this summer.

I’m glad to be rejoining my many friends in the Victoria Centre as we carry on our work sharing astronomy with our community and with our own explorations of the universe.

Total Solar Eclipse – April 8, 2024

Posted by as Observing Highlights

Eclipse Photos by members

2024 Total Solar Eclipse gallery – members’ photos

Reports from our members

Southern Ontario – Chris Gainor – blog

“…we drove south from Windsor through Amherstberg into the path of totality. Many eclipse chasers in the area were already arriving in Point Pelee Park…we found a great spot to watch the eclipse at Colchester Harbour and Beach. The Windsor Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) had set up tents and telescopes there, a restaurant, coffee shop and other facilities were nearby, and scores of people were already settling in to watch the eclipse over Lake Erie.”

“…Finally, at about 3:12 p.m., totality began. We were amongst the first to see totality that day from Canadian soil. The transition from needing eclipse glasses to full totality with the naked eye seemed to be prolonged to me, but finally we got our 90 seconds of totality and dark skies. Venus was plainly visible through the thin layer of cloud…”

Offshore from Mazatlan, Mexico – Joe Carr – photos

Total Solar Eclipse observed from the Discovery Princess, 150 nmi SW of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
2024-04-08, 11:06:04 AM
Diamond Ring

I observed my fifth Total Solar Eclipse from the Discovery Princess cruise ship, 150 nmi SW of Mazatlan. We had near-perfect skies thanks to the superb skills of the bridge officers, and my balcony faced south as the ship tracked the path of totality at the appointed time under the Moon’s shadow, making observing and photographing this spectacle easy and comfortable.

During the 4.5 minutes of totality at 11am local time, both Venus and Jupiter were visible, and watching the shadow approach from the west and retreat eastward was a lovely sight. Every solar eclipse is unique – this apparition offered beautiful, large solar prominences either side of a breathtaking diamond ring as totality ended at C3. I measured a 10ºC temperature drop with my portable weather station as the eclipse progressed from C1 to C2 and C3.

My fellow Victoria Centre members John McDonald and Bill Weir were aboard the same ship as me, and Miles Waite was enjoying the same beautiful view while aboard the Ruby Princess, only a few miles away from us. We remembered the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse (and Diane Bell) at breakfast when the ship’s pastry chefs served eclipse cookies.


Original Eclipse Information – posted earlier

2017 Total Solar Eclipse - plasma streamers at totality - photo by John McDonald
2017 Total Solar Eclipse – plasma streamers at totality – photo by John McDonald

If you haven’t observed a Total Solar Eclipse, this is your chance!

A Total Solar Eclipse is a rare astronomical event (2017 was the last one), and it is even rarer for one to occur in locations that are easy to travel to. Although only a partial eclipse is observable from western Canada, the eclipse tracks diagonally across North America (southwest to northeast) on April 8, 2024. In fact, everyone in North America is within striking distance of being able to observe this amazing event, where the Moon slides in front of the Sun for a few brief minutes, suddenly and totally obscuring the Sun.

Location

The eclipse tracks diagonally across North America, starting in Mazatlan, Mexico, across Texas and other states in the middle of the USA, tracking across southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Dedicated eclipse chasers are seeking the best prospects of clear skies by travelling to Mexico, but there are lots of Canadians planning to observe from locations near home, despite the chance of clear skies being poor at that time of year.

Map of eclipse track across North America
Eclipse track across North America – Jay Anderson, Eclipsophile

Time and Date’s 2024 Total Solar Eclipse site gives all the facts and figures required to find and enjoy the eclipse, including an interactive zoomable map showing the eclipse track and links to livestreams if you want to experience this eclipse from the comforts of home.

What if you can’t travel to the track of totality?

Partial Solar Eclipse from SW British Columbia
Partial Solar Eclipse from SW British Columbia – Time and Date’s interactive eclipse map

You can still see a partial solar eclipse from anywhere in North America. Use Time and Date’s interactive eclipse map to get the calculated timing for the eclipse in the area you plan to observe from. Click and zoom to your area, then click on your observing spot to see a popup telling you how long the eclipse will last and what you will see.

From our location in southwest BC in Canada, a small notch out of the solar disk will appear on eclipse day – obscuring about 17% of the Sun. Not exciting compared with the dramatic Total Solar Eclipse observed from the centreline, but still an interesting apparition to observe, assuming the 76% chance of cloud cover doesn’t prevail!

Weather

Weather always plays a big part in any solar eclipse, so being mobile is key to improving the odds of actually seeing the event should clouds threaten to obscure the Sun at the critical moment. Our very own Jay Anderson (former RASC Journal editor) is a weather expert, and specializes in forecasting weather for solar eclipses. His Eclipseophile website offers sage advice backed up with maps and charts depicting weather prospects for each eclipse happening in the world for the next several years. Read Jay’s analysis of the area you propose to observe from, so you understand how the weather might behave on eclipse day. Topography, elevation changes and local factors play into how the weather evolves throughout the day for a particular locale. Become a local weather expert, and you increase your chances for success!

Map showing the probability of clouds along the eclipse track
Probability of clouds along the eclipse track – Jay Anderson, Eclipsophile

Observing

Observing a Total Solar Eclipse is pretty easy, however that said, if you haven’t done it before, it’s nice to have experienced eclipse observers around to help you get the most out of your time under the Moon’s shadow. Obviously the time of total eclipse is the main event, however other things happen beforehand, afterwards, and during an eclipse that are worthwhile.

Uranus, Jupiter, Comet Pons-Brooks (12P), Mercury, eclipsed Sun, Venus, Neptune, Saturn - diagram from Starry Night Pro Plus 8
Uranus, Jupiter, Comet Pons-Brooks (12P), Mercury, eclipsed Sun, Venus, Neptune, Saturn – diagram from Starry Night Pro Plus 8

Although the eclipsed Sun is the main target, look around in the darkened sky for planets and other bright celestial objects. There is a good chance eclipse observers will be able to see: Uranus, Jupiter, Comet Pons-Brooks (12P), Mercury, Venus, Neptune and Saturn! Of course, the sky only darkens for the observer if they are in the path of totality, so anyone observing a partial eclipse won’t see any solar system bodies (except the Sun itself).

Be sure to try out any gear you propose to take with you before you leave. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars (or your eyes), camera lenses and telescopes you are bringing along. Remember, you only have a few minutes to see totality!

Finally, relax and enjoy the day. Arrive early. Try to manage your stress level. Just sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses handy, and enjoy!

Safely observing a solar eclipse – read about how to safely observe a solar eclipse

DIY Box Pinhole Projector – to safely observe the eclipse with only a box and some aluminum foil!

Victoria RASC eclipse chasers on the field observing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse from Oregon
Victoria RASC eclipse chasers on the field observing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse from Oregon

Photography

If this is your first time experiencing a Total Solar Eclipse, don’t risk missing the eclipse by fiddling with cameras! Observing through (filtered) binoculars is a low risk way to capture the moments of totality in your memory.

For dedicated photographers, using their gear to capture a Total Solar Eclipse can be a right of passage, and has the potential to either be a highlight of your lifetime photography experience (if you succeed) or end up being a point of shame you never want to talk about again (if you fail). Take test photos of the Sun weeks beforehand, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. Always have a backup plan for when (not if) gear breaks, or you simply can’t get it to work properly. Here are some scenarios for consideration for those who are brave enough to want to multitask during totality – a once-in-a-lifetime event (least difficult listed first):

  1. Use a smart phone on automatic mode to take photos or videos of the scene around you
  2. Use a camera and wide angle lens mounted on a tripod to record the landscape, people and the eclipsed Sun (and perhaps stars and planets) in the sky. Take a random series of shots or set the camera to shoot automatically at regular intervals to create a time lapse series.
  3. Use a camera and moderate telephoto lens on a tripod to shoot video of the eclipse in the sky. Keep the telephoto lens short (80mm to perhaps 135mm) to let the eclipsed Sun pass through the frame.
  4. Use a camera and long telephoto lens on a tripod to shoot photographs of the eclipsed Sun. Take photos of the eclipse at the important moments: plasma streamers, Bailey’s Beads, Diamond Ring, totality, and partial eclipse phases.
  5. Use a telescope on a tracking mount with a camera on the back to capture closeup details of the eclipse events such as Bailey’s Beads and the Diamond Ring.

Expansion of the list above, with important details about setup, rehearsing, and special gear you may wish to consider purchasing can be found in this article: How to photograph a solar eclipse, with Alan Dyer – EarthSky.

Travel

RASC Eclipse chasers setup in the Libyan Sahara - March 29, 2006
RASC Eclipse chasers observing from the Libyan Sahara – March 29, 2006

Dedicated eclipse chasers and tour operators have made reservations at least two years ago at all the prime locations for this eclipse along the centreline where the weather is best. That’s not to say last-minute travellers are shut out from experiencing this eclipse – by planning carefully and compromising a bit, it can still work. Flights to hotspots like Mazatlan a couple of days before to a couple of days after April 8th will be fully booked, as will hotels and guest houses. Flying to nearby airports and staying in accommodation outside the centreline can make sense. Driving into the track of totality early on eclipse day can work for many who have not planned ahead.

Many of the USA states the eclipse track runs through will not have crowds of people once you are on country roads. With careful planning using the interactive eclipse and weather maps, it is certainly possible to observe the eclipse from the side of the road, parking lots, campsites, or farmer’s fields. Interstate highways which are in the track of totality will experience congestion, depending on how close to civilization the location is. When driving, expect long delays even for 24 hours or so after an eclipse as all those eclipse chasers try to get home! To avoid that anxiety, plan to stay a day or two longer near your observing site before commencing your road trip home.

Help!

If this will be your first time observing a total solar eclipse, no doubt you have many questions and concerns, and don’t know where to start. The resources presented here may be overwhelming. Please ask any questions you might have about eclipses at Astronomy Cafe, held each Monday evening by RASC Victoria Centre. Your fellow RASC members have observed solar eclipses before…they can help!

If you are reading this from other locations, find your local RASC Centre in eastern Canada which have posted eclipse events and information – Eclipse 2024 RASC.

Resources