Mark you calendar! On April 8th, 2024, Kingston and a lucky few areas in southern Ontario will witness a once-in-a-lifetime event - a total solar eclipse.
The 2024 eclipse will be visible from Mexico, the United States, and Canada. For the first time in almost 700 years, Kingston is in the path of totality, or where the Sun will be completely blocked out by the Moon. This means many people will be flocking to the area to view this wondrous celestial spectacle, so planning needs to start ASAP!
For Kingstonians, this coming total solar eclipse will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime event: as mentioned, the last eclipse was almost 700 years ago in 1349, and the next one won't be for another 400-ish years in 2399!
What is a Solar Eclipse?
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on the Earth. A total solar eclipse, like the one that will occur on April 8th, 2024, occurs when the Moon completely blocks out the Sun's light and causes night-like darkness during the day on a very slim sliver of the Earth's surface. This sliver is also known as the path of totality.
Where to go?
Notable Ontarian cities in the path of totality include Kingston, Montréal, Niagara Falls, Hamilton, and more. Other major cities such as Toronto and Ottawa however, are not in the path of totality. People in these cities will still see most of the eclipse, but will miss the incredible spectacle of absolute totality. You can check out the entire path of totality on TimeAndDate (pictured left), or get exact details on your location using Xavier Jubier's Google Map.
The Queen's Eclipse Task Force is working in tandem with organizations across Ontario to ensure all schools in the KFL&A have access to educational activities, resources, and eclipse glasses or viewers for the day of the eclipse (April 8th, 2024). See below a list of schools planned for outreach, and locations hosting viewing events.
Furthermore, we have hopes to partner with libraries across KFL&A to host community events and make eclipse resources available for all. If we haven't made contact with your library yet and you are interested in receiving support, please contact us!
Upcoming Eclipse Events
Queen's Observatory Open House
Looking directly at an eclipse without proper eye protection is even more dangerous than looking into the Sun on any other day. It can cause partial or total blindness if the proper precautions are not taken. That being said, eclipses are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the Queen's community wants everyone to have a safe, enjoyable, and exciting experience. If you are looking at an eclipse, you must use high quality eye protection.
Queen's University is working to provide as many schools as possible in the local area with eclipse glasses and viewers. If you are trying to locate eye protection outside of schools, or are out of range to receive Queen's support, we recommend contacting your local library to champion material distribution in your community.
Sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe to use during an eclipse. If you are planning on purchasing your own eclipse glasses or viewers, it is recommended you put your order in as soon as possible. These websites will be getting overrun the closer we get to April 8th.
Do not buy eclipse safety equipment from Amazon, as they cannot ensure their products meet required safety standards.
Here are a few trusted companies for up-to-code eclipse eye protection:
American Paper Optics Lunt Solar Systems Rainbow Symphony
For instructions and tips on how to safely view an eclipse, see this American Astronomical Society (AAS) article
Members of the Queen's University Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy department have contributed many great educational activities that are suitable for a variety of age groups. There is also lots of activity inspiration to be found online!
A curated list of developed and discovered activities can be found to the right.
An activity in which you use rulers and different sized balls to create a mini-scale model of the Sun-Moon-Earth system. From there, you can recreate an eclipse using a light source (such as a flashlight) to cast shadows on the mini-Earth!
Recommended for students from grades K-12 (or ages 5 and up).
An activity in which you make a pinhole camera (also called a pinhole projector), which is a tool that can be used to safely observe an eclipse. Light is allowed through a small punched hole, which then projects the incoming light onto the opposite end of the box.
Recommended for students from grades 4-12 (or ages 9 and up).
A creative activity in which you punch a design or pattern into a sheet of paper. The incoming sunlight can then pass through all the little holes, projecting your pattern onto a flat surface. As the eclipse passes over, you will be able to track its progress through your image as the light projections change in shape. This is also a safe way to view an eclipse.
Recommended for all ages.
Video tutorial by the channel "Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum" on Youtube.
An activity in which you can log the different environmental changes that accompany an eclipse - from temperature and brightness to changes in animal behaviour!
Recommended for students from grades 4-12 (or ages 9 and up).
As much as we want to be experts on eclipse planning and information, it's good to use multiple sources. There are a ton of useful websites and organizations looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime event just as much as we are! We highly encourage checking out some of these other sites in preparation for the big day.
An excellent Canadian educational group who offer free resources and training for educators. They also have Community of Practice meetings for community leaders to discuss event planning and share information/resources! Sign up for free on their website:
A website run by experienced eclipse chaser Dan McGlaun, and based in the US. His website has been a goldmine of information and resources for eclipse planners since the 2017 total solar eclipse.
A US based organization partnered with NASA whose website is a hub for all things eclipses. They have plenty of educational resources, activities, safety information, and more. They also host occasional workshops.
A free 36-page PDF booklet for all things eclipse event planning. Authored by US-based American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Eclipse Task Force members Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz, this booklet was designed to help local leaders organize events for their libraries and communities.
"Solar Eclipses of 2023 and 2024: A North American 'Double-Header'"
We in the Queen's community want to ensure that everybody has a chance to experience the 2024 total solar eclipse safely. For this reason, we have collected a list of accessibility tools and tricks that can be implemented into your community event planning. If you have other ideas on how to make the 2024 eclipse more accessible, please let us know using the link below!
A free app developed by ARISA Lab: useful to all, but geared toward the Blind and Low Vision (BLV) community. The app includes an interactive "Rumble Map", translating this highly visual event into a fully touch and sound-based experience. It also includes audio descriptions of eclipse events, educational content surrounding eclipses, and is currently available in English and Spanish.
A device developed by Harvard University students for the Blind and Low Vision (BLV) community. In short, it is an Arduino-based device that outputs sound based on detected brightness. As the Moon eclipses the Sun, device users will thus experience a representative decrease in sound. It would be a great project for high school students to produce these devices for their communities.
More information about the device
If eclipse glasses are not available, attaching a neck strap to eclipse viewers is an easy way to make safely viewing the eclipse more comfortable and accessible for folks with decreased muscle strength.
Such straps can be made by hand using any string-like material, such as yarn, ribbon, or Paracord. Various styles of neck straps can also be found online. While we encourage finding neck straps via online stores, we must request you DO NOT BUY ECLIPSE GLASSES OR VIEWERS FROM AMAZON.
How to make a yarn strap (Video tutorial by the channel "YarnNecklaces" on Youtube)
How to make a Paracord strap (Video tutorial by the channel "Sierra" on Youtube)
Be on the Lookout!
This coming eclipse will be particularly stunning thanks to the Sun being near its solar maximum. The solar maximum is one extreme of the Sun's eleven-year solar cycle during which the Sun experiences peak solar activity. This activity includes solar flares, prominences, and sun spots. Other phenomena to lookout for include...
A phenomenon caused by the uneven, rocky surface of the Moon. Just as the Moon fully crosses in front of the Sun during the eclipse, the mountains and valleys of its surface will let the last bits of sunlight through before totality. The same event occurs at the end of totality.
The Diamond Ring Effect
An exaggerated version of Bailey's Beads, occurring at the very beginning and end of totality during a solar eclipse. This effect is also primarily caused by the rough topography of the Moon.
The world is full of all-natural pinhole cameras! Since the Moon changes the "shape" of the incoming light from the Sun, the light that filters between obstacles also changes in shape. This is a great way to safely track the progress of the eclipse up to totality.
What is an Eclipse?: Reinhard Wittich - Where to go?: TimeAndDate - Safety: Courtesy Mark Margolis / Rainbow Symphony - Bailey's Beads: Reinhold Wittich - The Diamond Ring Effect: Rick Fienberg/ TravelQuest International/ Wilderness Travel - Pinhole Effects: just sof/ Flickr