British Columbia

Thousands watch partial solar eclipse across B.C.

The partial solar eclipse has peaked in B.C. and some people went through great lengths to watch it this morning.

Victoria had the best eclipse view in Canada with 90 per cent of the sun blocked out

Special glasses were one of the easiest ways to look at the sun during the partial solar eclipse in Vancouver on Monday. (David Horemans/CBC)

The partial solar eclipse has peaked in B.C. and some people went through great lengths to watch it this morning.

As the sky darkened just a little, thousands turned out at viewing parties at Science World and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver to watch the rare celestial event.

Many used special glasses, pin hole boxes and optical equipment to watch as the moon blocked out about 86 per cent of the sun in Vancouver.

Many people made pin hole boxes to watch projections of the solar eclipse. (David Horemans/CBC)

However, unlike our neighbours to the south, Canada didn't see a total solar eclipse, where the moon completely covered the sun, blacking out the sky and turning day into night momentarily. That was only seen along the so-called path of totality, which is a narrow band from Oregon to South Carolina.

Canada still had a partial eclipse, though. Victoria had the best eclipse view in Canada, with 90 per cent of the sun blocked out.

The moon blocked about 86 per cent of the sun during the solar eclipse in Vancouver on Monday morning. (Richard Grundy, Denis Grenier/CBC)


The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre, will be set up on top of Mount Tolmie from about 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. PT.

The University of Victoria will also be hosting an event on site from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.


In Vancouver, people will start to see the morning sky darken because of a partial eclipse starting at 9:10 this morning. The maximum coverage for Vancouver will be at 10:21 am when the moon will eventually block 86 per cent of the sun.

Science World will hold its viewing event from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., with total eclipse coverage from the U.S. in the Science Theatre from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The University of British Columbia's physics and astronomy department is also holding an event from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the UBC Point Grey Campus.

You can also join the UBC Astronomy Club from 9:10 a.m. to 11:37 a.m. at Robson Square.

And, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is hosting an event from 8:45 a.m. to noon outside the Gordon Southam Observatory.


In the Okanagan, the partial eclipse will begin at 9:13 a.m. and reach its peak at 10:25 a.m. and end by 11:42 a.m.

Eclipse watchers are gathering at the Okanagan Science Centre in Vernon, the Kelowna Curling Club and at Osoyoos Desert Park.

Scientists at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Kaleden will be watching the sun but aren't holding a public event.

Elsewhere in Canada, Toronto will enjoy 70 per cent coverage while Calgary will have 77 per cent, according to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Watch Michael Unger from the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver describe the celestial event:

Michael Unger, Program Coordinator at HR MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, discusses the rare solar eclipse happening Monday August 21, 2017. 0:28

No peeking!

No matter where they are, Michael Unger, the program coordinator at the Space Centre, warns spectators to not look directly at the celestial event. 

"The sun's UV rays will burn your retinas. It won't even hurt. You keep staring and you will see black spots and if you stare longer you will go completely blind," he warns.

He also notes you can't safely view the partial eclipse with sunglasses. Special solar glasses are needed or a homemade pinhole camera.

People should also not take pictures with their phone or digital camera because the eclipse could damage those devices too, he says.

A DIY guide using common household items 0:35

Advice for drivers

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. is warning drivers to keep their eyes on the road, not the sky, as the near total solar eclipse darkens skies this morning.

ICBC says drivers should make sure their headlights are on as the eclipse reaches its peak just after 10 a.m., but craning for a view from behind the wheel is a bad idea, no matter what.

Spokeswoman Joanna Linsangan says even pulling over to the side of the road isn't great — and she advises drivers to find a safe, legal place to park if they want to watch the celestial display.

How to watch CBC's eclipse coverage.

CBC News will broadcast a live special, hosted by Hannah Thibedeau, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Watch it on CBC News Network or live streamed on will also bring you on-the-ground coverage from sites across North America via our live blog, kicking off at 11 a.m. ET.

You can also watch live on Facebook and on YouTube.

With files from The Canadian Press