Saskatoon

Love of astronomy born under living skies drives Sask. woman on road trip to view total eclipse

Amy Templeman has been planning for five years to drive thousands of kilometres across North America to watch the day-time sky turn black for about two minutes.

Amy Templeman has been waiting 5 years for her road trip to see the solar eclipse

An eclipse in 1999 was visible from Europe to India - this image was taken in France, and the sun's corona is clearly visible. (Luc Viatour/www.Lucnix.be, cc-by-sa-3.0)

Amy Templeman says her love of Saskatchewan's living skies instilled in her a love of astronomy so strong, she named her daughter Aurora.

It's also the reason she's been planning for five years to drive thousands of kilometres across North America to watch the day-time sky turn black for about two minutes.

On Aug. 21, Templeman, her partner Travis and six-month-old daughter Aurora will be travelling to Missouri to watch the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire United States in 99 years.

"I've been interested in the sky since I was a little girl," she said.

"I would basically trick my dad into letting me stay up late if I asked him questions about astronomy."

Partial eclipse piques interest

In 2012, Templeman watched a partial solar eclipse over the spectacular mountain view at Lake Louise, Alta.

She and Travis shared the experience with some of the hospitality workers at the popular tourist spot, taking turns to look through special eclipse glasses that make it safe to watch.

'It will be really interesting to see a bunch of like-minded people congregate.' - Amy Templeman

"The sun was setting over the mountains and it was a partial eclipse, so it looked like the cookie monster had taken a bite out of the sun," said Templeman.

Although it was fascinating to watch through the safety of the glasses, there was no noticeable difference in the daylight.

Templeman said she and Travis knew about this year's total solar eclipse at the time, and immediately decided to make sure they were were in the U.S. to see it.

Day turns to night, briefly

The path of "totality," where the moon will completely obscure the sunlight, stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. In those states, millions of people will experience approximately 2½ minutes of darkness in the middle of the day.

Templeman said her family chose the city of Columbia, Missouri because they have friends there.

However, it is also one of the places where the darkness is expected to last the longest. The feeling of night during the day is expected to be so convincing that birds and other animals will begin their evening routines. 
A map of the the path of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. (CBC News)

Templeman said it was lucky she had booked accommodation early because she had heard many local hotels around Columbia had no vacancies, with numerous parties and events planned in the city that day.

Templeman is one of many Canadians travelling south for the event.

"It will be really interesting to see a bunch of like-minded people congregate," she said.

"It's a really small band across the U.S. that you'll be able to see, or not see, the sun."

Viewing in Canada

Although the path of totality is entirely in the U.S., NASA predictions indicate that a partial eclipse will still be visible in parts of Canada. About 80 per cent of the sun is expected to be covered by the moon for those watching from Regina.

Looking at the eclipse can seriously damage a person's eyes. Anyone planning to watch needs special eclipse glasses, which can be found online or at some science stores or science centres. Do not look at the sun, even if a sliver of it is visible.

Templeman is not sure how she will feel when darkness falls over the crowd.

"I read other accounts of people feeling a sense of calm," she said.

"I've never heard of people being uneasy but, I don't know."

With files from CBC's Nicole Mortillaro