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Sechelt Skies: Dozens watch partial eclipse despite clouds

The Sunshine Coast Astronomy Club was out in force on the Sechelt’s Boulevard the morning of Oct. 14 to watch a partial solar eclipse.

The weather forecast for Saturday, Oct.14 didn’t look good for the partial solar eclipse but even with an on again/off again plan for public viewing, several Sunshine Coast Astronomy Club members showed up first thing after sunrise with coffees in hand. Two brought telescopes – a high-tech computer driven unit and a low-tech small Dobsonian with a solar filter, plus a trunkload of eclipse-viewing glasses. 

While not ideal, we all managed to get frequent views of the progress of the moon across the sun’s disk in between the bands of clouds moving in from the southeast. First contact came about 8:08 at the 1 o’clock position on the sun and the moon took about two and a half hours to transit the sun. At the mid-point around 9:20, the moon covered about 80+ percent of the sun’s face, which is pretty good for a partial eclipse. It was still daylight, of course, because the human eye and brain are pretty good at adjusting to unusual lighting but it was noticeably darker than usual for that time of day. 

This eclipse was only an annular eclipse at its centerline; Earth is nearing its closest approach to the sun – perihelion – on Jan. 4 and the moon was only three days past apogee – its farthest point in its orbit around Earth. The result was the slightly smaller-than-average size of the moon didn’t quite cover the slightly larger-than-average size of the sun and those lucky few on the centerline of the track saw a “ring of fire”. You couldn’t see the very cool glow of the sun’s outer atmosphere – the corona – but an annular eclipse is still something you truly don’t see every day. This eclipse came ashore in Oregon and the track moved southeast across the U.S. so we had just about the best view of anyone in Canada. Next year, though, a bunch of folks in eastern Canada will get a sweet total eclipse on April 8, 2024, weather permitting. 

At least 60 people stopped by and many bought eclipse glasses, which are the only safe way to reliably view a partially-eclipsed sun. Given how popular the Boulevard is for dog-walking, I’d guess at least that many dogs were in attendance as well, although few seemed as interested in the eclipse. 

One unintended guest had his picture taken as he had colonized the eyepiece attachment of one of the scopes, possibly in anticipation of Hallowe’en.  Another picture shows that telescope and the view of the eclipse through its solar filter. 

The Sunshine Coast Astronomy Club website has a great little article at: