Preparing for Totality

Total Solar Eclipse

Preparing for Totality

Brush up on eclipse science, history, and what to watch for ahead of Monday’s rare event.

By Justine Pineau, Coordinator, Strategic Initiatives

April 5, 2024


A total solar eclipse

Queen's has been at the forefront of preparations for Kingston’s historic total solar eclipse.

Kingston is about to experience a once-in-a-lifetime event: a total solar eclipse. For the past few years, Queen’s faculty experts from the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy, and a cross-campus team of staff have been collaborating with local and regional partners to plan for this extraordinary spectacle.

The eclipse is set to fully darken the sky around Kingston for three minutes, starting at 3:22 p.m. ET on Monday, April 8. To prepare your best possible viewing experience, Queen’s experts have shared important research insights to help develop our understanding of the phenomenon, and to help us view it safely.

Half sun, half moon.

An eclipse occurs whenever one astronomical object passes in front of another, blocking all or part of its light.

Out of this world research

You won’t want to miss this. The most recent total solar eclipse seen in Kingston occurred nearly 700 years ago, in 1349, and the city won’t see another until 2399. Robert Knobel, Head of Queen’s Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy, explains the different kinds of eclipses, why total eclipses are so rare, and how they’ve helped advance science—including Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.  

Not only rare on earth—rare in the universe! Queen’s astronomy researcher Kristine Spekkens talks about the rarity of total solar eclipses in the universe, connecting these insights with her broader research of star-forming galaxies.

Solar eclipse history, scientific progress, and ancient civilizations. Queen’s researchers Daryn Lehoux (Classics) and Sarah Sadavoy (Astronomy) spoke to the Queen’s Alumni Review about the historical and mathematical aspects of eclipses throughout human history. Expanding on this history, Dr. Sadavoy wrote on archeoastronomy, and how solar eclipses help historians narrow in on precise dates of historic events. Dr. Lehoux also highlighted how eclipses were once associated with the death of kings and, as a result, attempting to predict the celestial events played a key role in the birth of astronomy.

Understanding the sun. Queen’s astrophysicist Judith Irwin discusses the types of eclipses and how they’ve helped build understanding of astronomical phenomena like the Sun’s corona and magnetic fields.

Public engagement and citizen science. Astronomers Nikhil Arora and Mark Richardson talk about how eclipses have long provided important opportunities for communities to engage in science education.

Students watching the sun with eclipse glasses

Scan the glasses' QR code to visit the Queen’s Physics Eclipse website for more safety details.

Eclipse viewing and safety

Total solar eclipses are not to be missed, but we must be sure to view them safely. Dr. Knobel wrote about safe solar eclipse viewing, and the university and local partners have put together a set of helpful resources and updates, accessible through Queen’s 2024 Eclipse website. It includes information on free and available Queen’s eclipse glasses, safety details, local viewing areas, and much more.


This story is part of a series that uncovers the science behind the total solar eclipse that will be observed from Kingston on April 8, 2024. For more information and resources on the total solar eclipse, visit the Queen’s eclipse website.

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