Keep your eyes on the skies on Aug. 21
Ashley Hyshka, Community Reporter
For a short amount of time on Aug. 21, day will turn into night.
Vancouver will experience a partial solar eclipse, in which 90 per cent of the sun will be temporarily covered by the moon, during late morning that day. Beginning in the Pacific Ocean, the eclipse will sweep west-to-east across the United States where, in a narrow band, a total solar eclipse will be visible.
Laura Flinn, a professor in KPU’s Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Department, has been waiting for this opportunity since her childhood. Attending events like eclipse viewings is what got initially got her into science, and now she is hosting one of her own. Flinn hopes that the viewing party, which will be held at KPU Richmond’s Public Library Brighouse Branch on the morning of the 21st, will get a new generation interested in astronomy and science.
“I’m just hoping we won’t be too overrun,” she says. “But it’ll be nice if we are!”
The image of the eclipse will be captured through a telescope and then projected onto a screen. While this method may seem unorthodox to non-astronomy enthusiasts, Flinn assures the public that it is safe.
However, she does caution viewers to never look directly at the sun with the naked eye. Even with the moon mostly blocking the sun, a small amount of light can cause damage to the eye by burning the retina. In order to safely view the eclipse, special eyewear such as Eclipse glasses or Number 14 welder’s glasses needs to be worn.
While the image is being projected onto the screen, children will be able to draw out the shadow of the moon as it blocks the sun. Because the eclipse itself will last from 9:10 to 11:37 in the morning, with maximum totality at 10:21, Flinn says that this drawing will become a “takeaway souvenir” for those who attend.
There will also be a to-scale model of the sun, earth, and moon at the event. A basketball will represent the sun, and 24 metres away, a two-millimeter-wide “earth” and a half millimeter wide “moon” will be on display, demonstrating the vastness of the solar system.
While the eclipse will be the main event at the viewing party, Flinn’s first priority is making sure that people have a good time. She hopes to use the eclipse as a method of opening an educational dialogue with the public, reminding them, in the overall scheme of things, of just how small humanity truly is.