Astronomers mark solar eclipse

Public invited to watch Sunday's eclipse at Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory

While our ancestors took the sun being blotted out by the moon as a sign of suffering and ill-omen, some people in the South Okanagan are taking it as something a little different — a sign for celebration.

The Okanagan Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will be holding an event on Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m., weather permitting,  to celebrate and observe a partial solar eclipse occurring that night.

To this end, astronomers at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory will be setting up a number of special telescopes to allow participants to observe the different nuances of the sun, from the dark sunspots on its surface to the bright red prominences around its edge. As well, there will be a number of astronomy experts on hand to talk about the eclipse and to help any astronomical newbies who may be in attendance.

The society will also be providing free solar eclipse glasses to those in attendance.

Dave Gamble, a past-president of the Okanagan Centre of the astronomical society, said not only is the event fun; it’s a safe way to view the eclipse.

“You’re tempted to look at the sun, but it’s extremely dangerous to do that,” said Gamble. “In this way, you’d have approved eyewear so you could really enjoy it, and you could pick the brains of people who know quite a bit about astronomy.”

The partial eclipse, which should start around 5 p.m., will see 68 per cent of the sun being covered by the moon. The eclipse will be over at around 7:20 p.m.

No one should look at the sun without proper eye-wear; while the sun may look like it’s gone, its radiation is still being transmitted and can cause serious damage to the retina of the eye.

The event will begin at 4 p.m. at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory on White Lake Road.