How, when and where to watch the solar eclipse in Calgary
Eclipse safety glasses already sold out in many stores
It's being called the Great American Eclipse but Calgarians can get their own view of the stellar phenomenon when the moon blocks out the sun on Monday.
While a solar eclipse isn't all that rare, the eclipse taking place Aug. 21 will be the first total eclipse to cross the continental United States since 1918, says Don Hladiuk, a regular columnist on all things astronomical with the Calgary Eyeopener.
"So it's a long time since one has crossed the entire continent," Hladiuk said. "For a partial eclipse for Calgarians, the last one was in October of 2014. But this one is special because there's a totality phase to it."
When and where
Southern Albertans will have a better view of the eclipse than those in the northern part of the province.
Hladiuk said the eclipse is "all about geometry," and because of the angle of the moon, the eclipse will look more complete closer to the U.S. border.
"So for Calgary, at around 10:23 in the morning you'll start to see the first bite of the moon crossing the face of the sun," Hladiuk said.
Hladiuk said the entire event will last a bit more than two and a half hours and be wrapped up before 1 p.m.
"Maximum eclipse for Calgary will happen around 11:33 in the morning, and you'll see 81 per cent of the sun covered, which is a pretty good blockage," Hladiuk said.
Telus Spark will host the Operation Explore: Great North American Eclipse Party for people looking to enjoy the eclipse with other amateur astronomers.
The University of Calgary is having a solar eclipse pop-up observatory in the courtyard on the south side of the Engineering Complex from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
How to watch safely
Hladiuk said it's unsafe to look at an eclipse with the naked eye but there are a number of safe ways to view the phenomenon — including a pinhole camera.
Instructions on how to make a pinhole projector using common household items are available online through the American Astronomical Society.
"You're not looking at the sun, you're looking at a projected image," Hladiuk said. "So for families with children, this might be one of the safest methods for looking at the sun."
Eclipse safety glasses sold out in many stores
Because of the popularity of the upcoming eclipse, a number of Calgary-area business have sold out of special safety lenses for viewing the eclipse.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Telus Spark science centre had been cleared out of its stock of protective lenses.
All London Drugs, Toys R Us and Best Buy locations in Calgary were also sold out.
Online retailer Amazon issued a recall on safety lenses on the weekend after learning many brands sold by the company "may not comply with industry standards," Amazon said in a statement.
Because of the recall, the American Astronomical Society issued a list of verified vendors and websites that sell light-filtering eclipse glasses.
With proper filtering lenses becoming harder to come by, Hladiuk said even a set of No. 14 welder's glasses would safely filter out the harmful effects of the eclipse.
"I can't say enough about this … do not look at the sun without proper tools or equipment," Hladiuk said.
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- With files from the Calgary Eyeopener