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Solar eclipse will plunge much of N.B. into darkness

By News Apr 8, 2024 | 5:42 AM

Many New Brunswickers will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness an astronomical event on Monday.

A solar eclipse will plunge much of the province into complete darkness for several minutes on Monday afternoon.

The path of totality goes through central New Brunswick, meaning the moon will fully block out the sun, while the rest of the province will see near-total darkness, and it’s an event that thousands have been waiting to witness.

Amateur Astronomer Dan McLaughlin says it impacts more than just the sun and moon.

“The temperature will drop, and the wind will pick up, probably in the direction of the path of the moon. Animals will have different reactions thinking it is bedtime. I have been told by some farmers that some of their horses will return to the barn thinking it is nighttime,” he says

McLaughlin has been told it is a very emotional experience.

“To one eclipse chaser that I spoke to from Indiana, he has watched 15 different eclipses. He says you look up and the sky is totally dark except for this circular spot where the sun is supposed to be and all around you, the horizon is clear,” he says

If you are planning to be driving during the time of the eclipse, McLaughlin does not anticipate that should be an issue, except that a lot of places are expecting a lot of traffic.

“If you take some of the roads up north like Highway 126 or Highway 11, my concern is that some people will be distracted,” he says.

He also advises against trying to wear solar eclipse glasses while you are driving because it will be completely dark.

Many schools are dismissing students early so they can get to their after-school destinations safely before the eclipse begins.

Decisions were made on a district-by-district basis and schools communicated their specific dismissal time to families.

With students getting out earlier than usual, motorists are urged to watch out for children as they make their way home.

You should also be prepared for increased traffic, turn on your vehicle’s lights if necessary and to be mindful of others if you have to pull over or are planning to park somewhere.

In addition, with the sky temporarily going dark in the afternoon, you may see wildlife acting unusually or starting to move as if it were nighttime.

Officials said if you do not have certified solar eclipse glasses in accordance with ISO 12312-2:2015, you should not look at the sun.

Dr. Yves Léger, New Brunswick’s acting chief medical officer of health, said you risk damaging your vision, which could even lead to blindness.

“Wearing regular sunglasses, using your phone or an unfiltered camera will not be good enough: you need certified eclipse glasses,” said Léger.

If you do not have solar eclipse glasses, you can make a pinhole camera or watch it via livestream.

Meanwhile, a warning from Amazon about uncertified solar eclipse glasses.

Refunds are being issued to some customers after they learned of fake eye protection sold through its website.

The product was described as ‘eyes protection paper frame glasses for solar eclipse viewing.’

A list of safe suppliers for solar eclipse glasses can be found on the American Astronomical Society website, but the glasses sold were not included. The AAS also includes information on how to ensure your glasses are safe.

The eclipse will begin shortly after 3:20 p.m. in New Brunswick and continue until around 5:40 p.m., reaching its peak at around 4:30 p.m. or shortly after.

You can view specific times for your community here.