The Gleaner

Excitement is mounting for the solar eclipse

“It is the most beautiful thing you will ever see,” says astronomer and Elgin resident Pierre Tournay, of the experience in store for Valley residents during the upcoming full solar eclipse.

Tournay has been waiting for this moment for years. As a member of the Société d’Astronomie du Planétarium de Montréal (SAPM), he will be stationed at the organization’s observatory site in Elgin on April 8, equipped with protective lenses for his telescopes and certified eyewear so he won’t miss a second of one of nature’s greatest shows. That is, so long as Mother Nature plays along, and the often-cloudy spring skies start to clear in time for the 2:13 p.m. start of the first partial phase.

“The good thing about the eclipse is that everyone can see it from their backyard,” says Tournay. The full eclipse at the site in Elgin will begin at 3:25 p.m. and will last for a total of two minutes and 52 seconds. Residents in Davignon Park in Hinchinbrooke and Franklin will experience just over three minutes, while those in Athelstan will have two minutes and 45 seconds of totality, when the moon will pass perfectly in front of the sun.

The duration of totality and both the start and end times for the eclipse all vary based on location. Tournay says it is especially important for those who plan to observe the eclipse to know exactly when the second partial phase will begin. He says it is safe to look at the eclipse without protective glasses during totality, so long as you look away before any sunlight returns.

Tournay travelled to Idaho to witness his first total eclipse in 2017. He saw his second eclipse two years later in Chile. “It is awe-inspiring!” he exclaims. “You feel like you are on a different planet,” he says, while describing the changes in lighting and temperature that will occur. “It is a fantastic feeling,” he shares, suggesting Valley residents take full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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