Eclipse dazzles the region

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On April 8, a total solar eclipse peaked across the skies of our local area, drawing crowds of people to scenic places where they enjoyed an event which, for most, will be once in a lifetime. The eclipse’s totality phase could be seen with the naked eye for those who made the drive as little as a few kilometres south, with many people gathering along the shores of the St. Lawrence River to experience a double dose of magnificent scenery. 

While many people from the area undoubtedly remember experiencing solar eclipses before, most would have only seen “partial” eclipses prior to April 8. Total solar eclipses occur somewhere on Earth every 18 months, but about 70% of these occur over the ocean, where it is not possible to see them (except from a boat). 

Photos of crowds who travelled to gathering spots to view the April 8 total solar eclipse. Photos from Crysler’s Farm at Upper Canada Village, and from the northern edge of the Town of Iroquois.

Eclipses only appear in the same spot on Earth once every 360-410 years on average, and this means that no one alive has ever seen an eclipse in the same spot as the one that occurred last week, nor will anyone alive today ever see one there again. To think of what the region must have looked like the last time a total solar eclipse could be viewed here with the naked eye is a fascinating concept. It’s perhaps even more fascinating to consider what the civilization surrounding the shores of the St. Lawrence River will look like the next time people are eagerly staring up and waiting for their once in a lifetime view. 

Traffic on local roads was backed up in certain spots and at certain times as people travelled to and from other parts of Ontario and Quebec – including Ottawa and Gatineau – toward the southern edge of the region to see the totality phase with the best possible view. At gatherings throughout the area, amazed exclamations of “wow” could be heard as the sun disappeared behind the moon. Darkness fell in the middle of the afternoon for about 3 minutes, confusing birds and causing them to erupt into song. It didn’t take long for the sun to peak out once again, and those with special eclipse viewing glasses got to see the moon moving to and from the sun. 

What a view! Anyone who missed viewing the eclipse can find countless photos and videos through a quick internet search. 

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