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Solar Eclipse 2024: Safety, Photography in the GTA and Other Tips

Eclipse photography

Monday promises to be an exciting moment for nature, science, astronomy and photography enthusiasts. Let’s look at the phenomenon and offer a few tips for viewing or photographing this event.

Please use extreme caution. Errors, whether gear or human cause, can lead to permanent damage to your eyes. It will pay off to learn about the eclipse from a science point of view. So why not visit the NASA site to learn as much as possible prior to the event?

How this eclipse will differ from previous solar eclipses

Yes there will be differences from other eclipses. First of all, the total solar eclipse this April will last longer, could appear darker, and the corona should look even more reminiscent of a pointy crown around the moon.

Geography plays a role this year. Many more people live where it will be safe to remove protective eclipse glasses for the minutes when the sun is completely blocked. In our region the path of totality will include the populated areas of Toronto and Niagara.

In this article we look at

  • Definition of an eclipse
  • Safety for viewing / pinhole camera
  • Techniques for photographers
image from NASA / photographed on Aug. 21, 2017, from Madras, Oregon / by Aubrey Gemignani

During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s ghostly white corona appears around the black disk of the Moon. This total solar eclipse was photographed on Aug. 21, 2017, from Madras, Oregon.

Photo by Aubrey Gemignani

What is an eclipse?

Eclipses occur on our planet when the Sun, Moon, and Earth line up. Exactly how they align determines what kind of eclipse we see. A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, blocking at least some of the Sun and casting a shadow on Earth.

Safety and viewing the eclipse with glasses or pinhole camera

The safest approach is to avoid looking in the direction of the eclipse. This multi-hour event can endanger your vision, so if you have children or lack proper equipment you can be cautious and stay indoors, or skip the event altogether. Of course if you are determined to watch read on.

The wise folks at NASA advise the following:

“When watching a partial or annular solar eclipse directly with your eyes, you must look through safe solar viewing glasses (“eclipse glasses”) or a safe handheld solar viewer at all times. Eclipse glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe for viewing the Sun. Safe solar viewers are thousands of times darker and ought to comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard. NASA does not approve any particular brand of solar viewers.

Always inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use; if torn, scratched, or otherwise damaged, discard the device. Always supervise children using solar viewers.”

In this space, we do not offer advice on use of glasses or other equipment but if you do your homework you should be able to find some reliable solutions and vendors.

Instead of taking a chance with glasses or using cameras or similar, you might also try a pinhole viewing box also known as a pinhole camera. NASA has some advice and instructions for this kind of project.

Photography of eclipse

Your equipment can be damaged by the powerful sun rays. you will need a filter along with protective glasses.

Local Greater Toronto area (GTA) photographer Eddie Chan offered tips on his Instagram:

“Please DO NOT EVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT ECLIPSE GLASSES. YOU WILL PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR VISION. I have read that during Totality, you can see it without protection but that is up to you.

Pointing your camera directly at the sun will damage your camera sensor when having a telephoto lens on so you must protect it somehow with a solar eclipse certified filter.”

Great advice. Eddie and friends will be in the Fort Erie or Niagara area if weather cooperates.

Eddie’s post:

Please be cautious and if in doubt avoid looking at the sky or area of view where the eclipse takes place.

If you are taking photos we wish you luck, stay safe and enjoy.

Tdot Shots

Photos from the Toronto area photography community

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