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The Great American Eclipse of August 2017

The Great American Eclipse of August 2017


Blue Camping Tent

Ok Campers! Camping and Hiking season will soon be upon us.  Well, it may already be upon you if you’re not afraid to do a little winter camping.  For me however, I prefer to wait for warmer, less snowy weather.

As we begin to gear up for the new season, I wanted to point out an interesting astronomical event that will be happening this summer.

solar eclipse 2017

Great American Eclipse 2017

This summer a solar eclipse will be happening on Monday August 21, 2017. For some locations this will be a Total Eclipse, but for my area it will only be partial eclipse, with about 40% of the Sun being covered.  This eclipse will be visible for much of Canada and the USA in varying degrees of blockage.

The team over at are calling this event the Great American Eclipse of 2017. According to NASA, most calendar years have 2 solar eclipses in it.  The maximum number of solar eclipses you can have in one calendar year is five (5); but that is quite rare.  The most recent year that happened in was 1935.  And the next one is calculated to be in 2206.  Out of the last 5000 years only 25 years have actually experienced 5 solar eclipses in.

solar eclipse

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. The Moon can either fully or partially block out the Sun.  A total eclipse is when the Sun is fully obscured by the disk of the Moon. But witnessing a partial eclipse is still pretty amazing.  A solar eclipse can only happen around the New moon; when the moon and Sun are in conjunction or in alignment with each other.  According to Wikipedia, if the Moon was in a perfect circular orbit and on a similar orbital plane as Earth, as well as being just a smidge closer to Earth; we would experience a total solar eclipse every month.  The Moon orbits on an inclined plane more than 5 degrees to earth so this does not happen.


Partial Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipse

What time will the Solar Eclipse occur?

For us in Calgary, Alberta Canada the eclipse will begin at 10:20 am and be visible (weather permitting) for 2 hours 30 mins.  Want to find out if you will be able to see the eclipse from your location?  Hop over to Time & and enter your city name into the search bar.

Viewing the Solar Eclipse

This would be a great opportunity to book off Monday and plan a hike to the top of a mountain in your area. Our goal at is to get up early, take in the sunrise and have ourselves strategically placed on the top of a mountain, with a camera in hand when the eclipse begins.  A few locations that pop into mind that would make for great viewing from Calgary, AB are:

Just a note on eye safety.  Protect your eyes when watching the Sun!  The sun’s rays can burn the retina’s of your eyes even if partially blocked out by the Moon.  Serious and permanent eye damage can occur if you look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection, even if it is only for a few moments.  NASA suggests using welders goggles rated 14 or higher to protect your eyes while viewing a Solar Eclipse. You should never use regular store bought sunglasses, smoked or colored glass, medical X-ray film or color film.  None of these items are strong enough to protect your eyes from the Sun’s rays.  To prevent blindness purchase a good pair of viewing glasses from a local astronomy club or even Amazon.

The safest way to view a solar eclipse is using a pinhole camera.

Taking a picture of a solar eclipse:  As with your eye’s the sun’s rays should be filtered when viewing through your lens.  A solar filter should be used on the lens throughout the partial blockage of the sun.  Sun filters can easily be purchased for your lens from the manufacturer or from a local camera shop.  To learn more has a fantastic step-by-by tutorial on how to take a picture of a solar eclipse.


  1. As the date of the August 21 eclipse draws near, keep this important safety information in mind: You MUST use special eclipse safety glasses to view a partial eclipse and the partial phases of a total eclipse. To do otherwise is risking permanent eye damage and even blindness. The ONLY time it’s safe to look at a TOTAL eclipse without proper eye protection is during the very brief period of totality when the Sun is 100 percent blocked by the Moon. If you’re in a location where the eclipse won’t be total, there is NEVER a time when it’s safe to look with unprotected eyes. NEVER attempt to view an eclipse with an optical device (camera, binoculars, telescope) that doesn’t have a specially designed solar filter that fits snugly on the front end (the Sun side) of the device. Additionally, never attempt to view an eclipse with an optical device while wearing eclipse glasses; the focused light will destroy the glasses and enter and damage your eyes.

    • Fantastic advice! Thanks for leaving this valuable info for us. We will be sure to have all the proper equipment close at hand for that day.

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View of Moraine lakes deep blue colour from the rock pile

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