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Safety tips for watching the eclipse in Nova Scotia

By Jacob Moore Apr 2, 2024 | 5:51 PM

In only six days Nova Scotia will have a partial solar eclipse.

Tim Doucette, the owner and operator of Deep Sky Eye Observatory in Tusket, N.S., says the solar eclipse will be amazing to see but people have to wear eye protection while they watch.

Doucette is going to New Brunswick to see the eclipse in the path of totality.

“It’s going to be exciting to get back there and visit some of my old friends,” says Doucette.

The path of totality, meaning where the moon will completely cover the sun, passes over New Brunswick. In Nova Scotia, the sun will be mostly covered, but it won’t get as dark as it would in the path of totality.

An eclipse like this won’t happen again until 2079.

Eye protection

He says eye protection is necessary to watch the eclipse. Eclipse glasses or shade 14 welding glasses would work.

If people look at the eclipse while it’s covered, their eyes will dilate, letting in more light. If the moon moves and the sun rays hit your eyes while they’re dilated, that can cause a lot of damage, says Doucette. People can damage their eyes by looking at a partial eclipse, too.

“The back of your eye doesn’t have pain receptors. What will happen is the ultraviolet light will damage your retina, and you won’t feel any pain,” he says.

“You won’t even know it until the next day when you wake up and you can’t see.”

He says people shouldn’t look at the eclipse through telescopes unless they have special lenses. If they use digital cameras or phones, they may also want special lenses or to put protection in front so the ultraviolet rays from the sun don’t damage sensors in the cameras.

People can also create pinhole cameras. Doucette says it’s a good alternative for people who don’t want to look directly at the eclipse. But it’s especially good for young parents who want to make their children from looking right at the eclipse, he says.

Take a piece of cardboard and put a pinhole in it. Then point it at the sun. Don’t look through the hole but let it shine on the ground or on a piece of paper, Doucette says.

Path of totality

In New Brunswick, while the sun is covered by the moon, people can look at it with their naked eyes.

Doucette says there’s also an app for this called Solar Eclipse Timer. The app would tell you when it’s safe to remove your eye protection and when to put it on again. If some people are worried about their eye safety, he says they can leave the eye protection on the whole time.

He says, if people live close, perhaps an hour drive away, they should visit the path of totality.

Seeing other planets

He says other planets, like Jupiter, Venus and possibly Mercury and Saturn, could be visible to the eye in the dark environment. It’s a rare event, but some comets may be visible near the sun as well, he says.

“If you’ve like to experience what it’s like on another planet for a few minutes, that’s the closest you’re going to get right now,” says Doucette.