A solar eclipse is expected in North America on April 8th, 2024, with a total and partial eclipse expected in parts of Eastern Canada. Ottawa lies very close to the path of totality and is expected to witness a partial eclipse bringing a deep darkening of the sky and edge effect. The total light intensity decreases during a solar eclipse, but solar radiation will still reach the earth’s surface.

We are expected to experience the eclipse in Ottawa from 2:11 pm to 4:35 pm, with the maximum at 3:25pm.

During a partial solar eclipse, the sun is partially covered by the moon causing the light intensity to decrease but still emitting Ultraviolet and Infrared radiation. The reduced light intensity causes the pupils to dilate allowing more Ultraviolet and Infrared radiation to enter the eyes (than would normally occur). This exposure causes photochemical and thermal damage to the retina, potentially resulting in visual impairment. This can range from blind spots to a complete loss of vision, termed “eclipse blindness” from solar retinopathy. Further contributing to the risk is that the retina has no pain receptors, and an injury may go undetected for hours after exposure.

Some safety tips:

  • If possible, avoid being outdoors during the eclipse.
  • If required to be outside, wear a wide brimmed hat to protect against inadvertent glimpses of the sun.
  • Sun glasses, even with UV protection, will not protect your eyes.
  • Do not look at the solar eclipse through a camera lens, binoculars, telescopes or any other optical device while wearing eclipse glasses or using a handheld solar viewer. The concentrated rays will burn through the filter and damage your eyes.

The only way to observe the eclipse safely, is to wear eye protection that meets ISO-12312-2 standard. This includes eclipse glasses and/or an eclipse handheld viewer. These are exceptionally dark!  Therefore, to observe the solar eclipse safely, find an area where you can safely stand or sit and then don the glasses before looking up.