How and When to Watch the Solar Eclipse

Parts of North America will be treated to a total eclipse of the sun on Monday, August 21st. Some areas will see the sky darken completely for a few minutes during the day.

Total solar eclipses happen when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, casting its umbra, the darkest central part of its shadow, on Earth. In regions around the umbra, within the penumbra, the sun appears to be only partially eclipsed.

Image courtesy of

Canada will fall into that penumbra – or partial eclipse category – on Monday. Central Canada will see 70 per cent of the sun blocked by the moon. Here in Toronto that will occur beginning at 1:10 pm and ending at around 3:30 in the afternoon. Victoria, BC will have Canada’s most impressive eclipse, with 90 per cent of the sun falling behind the moon’s shadow.

A partial eclipse – particularly at 70 percent or less – may not be that dramatic depending on the weather. If it is cloudy on Monday, you may not even notice it. (Unlike some areas of the US which will experience over two minutes of complete darkness in the middle of the day.)

This map from NASA illustrates the journey of the eclipse across North America.

Map courtesy of

I feel obliged to point out – as everyone does – that looking directly at the eclipse can damage your eyes. Because much of the sun’s light is blocked, it is easier for people to look right at it. However, the harmful radiation that can seriously damage your eyes is still present without the blinding light. Special eclipse glasses are needed to safely observe the event – your ordinary sunglasses won’t do.

Or, for the DIY enthusiasts, NASA has produced a video on how to make a pinhole projector to safely view the eclipse if you don’t have eclipse glasses.

If you want to watch the full eclipse without risking your vision or heading south, you can always watch it online. NASA will be live-streaming the event here:

Twitter will also be live streaming the eclipse on Monday in partnership with the Weather Channel:

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