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Solar eclipse an exciting family event: town councillor

By Tara Clow Feb 20, 2024 | 12:35 PM

A Riverview councillor at large expects many will be taking a vacation day on April 8, the day of the total solar eclipse.

Heath Johnson says he knew 20 years ago this was coming.

“I’ve been interested in solar eclipses for many, many years. NASA has maps on its website of all of the eclipses that are expected until 2100. I was looking at the maps almost 20 years ago and realized there was going to be one in New Brunswick in 2024, which is pretty exceptional because there hasn’t been one here since 1972. There won’t be another one around here until about 2079.”

He says it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event for a lot of people. Riverview is expected to get 99.7 per cent totality, with the moon covering the sun at its peak, but it will only be almost totally dark for a few moments.

If you head north to areas like Bouctouche, Kouchibouguac or Miramichi, the moon will completely cover the sun for around three minutes at around 4:30 p.m. on April 8.

“Other places where this has happened before say that sometimes the crickets start chirping, and the owls will start to cooing because they think it’s nighttime. It’s really a surreal experience and I really want to be able to enjoy that with my family,” Johnson adds.

After speaking to several people about this exciting event, Johnson says many are looking at taking the day off so they can travel to just the right spot to experience the full extent of the eclipse.

One thing to keep in mind if you are planning a day with your family is to ensure you take the steps to ensure you are viewing the solar eclipse safely. Looking directly at the sun can potentially damage your eyes.

“As the moon goes in front of the sun, there’s a temptation to try to look at it. It’s not safe. You want to wear a pair of glasses that have special filters in them. It’s important to get a credible pair of them, not just a cheap pair that you find online. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has information on its website,” Johnson adds.

During last week’s Riverview town council meeting, Johnson introduced motions to have their regular council meeting and a public hearing on April 8 moved to the following day because of the solar eclipse.