Where to watch the 'celestial event of the year' in Nova Scotia

If you're looking to catch a glimpse of the partial solar eclipse Monday without hurting your eyes, there are a handful of safe-viewing events to choose from.

About half the sun will be obstructed at height of the eclipse

Early risers catch a glimpse of a solar eclipse on the rocks at Peggy's Cove, N.S., on Aug. 11, 1999, using an improvised pinhole camera to safely view the phenomenon. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Anyone in Nova Scotia who wants to catch a glimpse of the partial solar eclipse Monday without hurting their eyes will have a handful of safe-viewing events to choose from.

The Discovery Centre is partnering with the Halifax Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada to help people observe "the celestial event of the year."

From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., visitors will be able to look through outdoor telescopes free of charge. There will also be an indoor program included with the cost of admission.

Dalhousie University is making several telescopes with solar filters available to the public for free from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Dunn Building at 6310 Coburg Rd.

An image of the sun will also be projected onto a screen and instructors will be there to answer questions.

Saint Mary's University will have reflecting telescopes and 40 pairs of eclipse viewers on hand in front of the Burke Building on Inglis Street in Halifax, starting at 2:15 p.m.

Events outside Halifax

Members of the Queens County Astronomy Group will be at Waterfront Park in Liverpool from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. to help visitors view the eclipse through a telescope and solar-filtered binoculars.

And anyone near Musquodoboit Harbour will be able to share eclipse viewers at the local community garden at 7962 Highway 7 between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The partial eclipse is expected to begin at around 2:40 p.m. in Halifax and end at 5 p.m. It will peak at 3:53 p.m. with the moon blocking out around 50 per cent of the sun, according to Astronomy Nova Scotia.

It's only advisable to look directly at the sun during a total solar eclipse when the moon blocks out the sun entirely. That means people in Nova Scotia will need to take measures such as using special solar filters.

"You've got to look after your eyes," said Rob Thacker, a professor of astrophysics at St. Mary's University. "If you try to look at the sun with your eyes, normally you'll probably want to look away. You can't really look too hard but you can still damage your eyes doing that.

"But definitely do not look at anything through a telescope that isn't covered with a filter, or (through) binoculars."

Hoping for clear skies

The forecast is calling for a mix of sun and cloud, but with luck the skies will be clear over much of the province during the height of the eclipse.

If you can't make it to any of the safe-viewing sites, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has posted instructions online for making your own pinhole eclipse viewer and other information about viewing the eclipse safely.

People who don't have a way to gaze at the sun safely should still be able to notice a difference during the height of the eclipse, according to Paul Heath, outreach chair at Halifax Centre Royal Astronomical Society.

"Even the partial eclipse will create some unusual effects," Heath said in a statement. "Look around during maximum coverage to see multiple eclipsed suns under trees, watch how birds and animals respond and judge how the temperature drops."

For those in the Maritimes who are keen to see a total eclipse, Thacker said there's expected to be one on April 8, 2024, and Fredericton will be in the path of totality.

With files from Amy Smith