Monday, August 21, 2017


To show today's partial solar eclipse (it was not total here) to the public, several of us - members of the Vancouver Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) - set up solar and "white light" filtered telescopes at Telus Science World here in Vancouver. We also gave out hand-held eclipse viewers - we had a limited number, and have none left now.

The eclipse had been advertised extensively world-wide. Telus Science World (and we) anticipated a large crowd, and that certainly was the case. People queued up more than hour before the beginning of the eclipse. The line-up at each of our telescopes was in the hundreds all through the eclipse; someone mentioned that a total of about ten thousand people were in attendance inside Science World and at our telescopes. It was a grand occasion. We have had similar reactions at other events (though not the huge crowds of today). I think it shows that, when it comes to finding things out about what goes on in space, people have an innate interest.

At the time near maximum of the partial eclipse, when the sun was only a crescent reminscent of a young or old Moon, the sunlight turned into an unusual bluish/gray colour and was noticeably fainter. A drop in temperature was also felt by most people. It is odd to see faint sunlight under an absolutely clear sky. It was not like sunset or sunrise - those are commonly red.

This was a very successful event; perhaps we have steered a few young people in the crowds to study and get involved with working in astronomy, and/or related sciences. There is really no boundary between any of the sciences; STEM technologies underly most of them, particularly astronomy and space travel.

Why don't we order up another eclipse soon, we all had a great and fun time.