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Total solar eclipse sends parts of Canada into darkness

Millions of people across North America fell into chilly midday darkness on Monday as a total solar eclipse slid across the continent for the first time in seven years, leaving crowds to experience a phenomenon they won’t see in Canada again for decades. 

Parts of southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes were momentarily plunged into the dark as the moon slid between the sun and the Earth over the course of a few hours in the afternoon. The sky dimmed, birds went quiet, streetlights came on and the sun’s corona — a ghostly white ring around its outer edge — became visible to the human eye.

“This is incredible. That diamond ring … that’s gorgeous,” said CBC’s Chris Ensing, standing at the edge of Lake Erie during totality in Kingsville, Ont. “What a moment.”

Clouds threatened to block the view of the sun in many areas within the path of totality, but the thin layer of clouds didn’t seem to make much of a difference as the moon cast its shadow over parts of Canada. Some crowds clapped at the sight overhead, like those in Kingsville, while others went quiet.

The crowd in Niagara Falls cheered for Norma Rois, 58, when she yelled out that it was her birthday during a moment of the totality.

WATCH | Thousands cheer as eclipse hits Niagara Falls: 

VIDEO | Crowd cheers as total eclipse peeks through clouds over Niagara Falls

15 hours ago

Duration 0:47

Despite overcast skies, thousands of people in Niagara Falls, Ont., celebrated as they caught a glimpse of the total eclipse.

“I felt like I was with family members the whole time. I don’t know their names, but we were cheering together,” she said. 

Kathy Eller of O’Leary, P.E.I., said she had no regrets after waiting outside for six hours to take in the total eclipse near the province’s northwestern tip.

“It was better than fireworks,” she said. “I forgot about everybody around, and was just concentrating on the sun and the moon. It was kind of like magic.”

In the nation’s capital, a public inquiry looking into foreign interference in Canada’s elections paused proceedings so the lawyers, witnesses and journalists could see the show. 

Thousands of people in Mazatlán, Mexico, were first on the continent to experience totality at 1:05 p.m. ET. Crowds came together in deck chairs on the coastline, looking skyward through eclipse glasses as the moon slipped across the sky.

“It was absolutely remarkable. The sky was a little bit cloudy … but the eclipse totality was not obscured at all,” said Joy Daniels, an eclipse chaser who travelled to Mazatlán from her home in Calgary with 13 friends and family members.

“It went quite dark…. The birds, they all went to sleep and the temperature went way, way down.”

The eclipse began over the southern Pacific Ocean before moving into Mexico and the United States. Crowds in southwestern Ontario were the first in Canada to experience the eclipse before the show moved into Quebec and Atlantic Canada, where it ended off the coast of Newfoundland after roughly 30 minutes.

In Canada, the path of totality — the stretch where the moon will block the sunlight entirely — included parts of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

People outside the path of totality in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes could see a partial solar eclipse, with just a chunk of the sun obscured by the moon.

Here’s what else you need to know.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun. People watching from the path of totality experience what’s called a total solar eclipse. The sky goes dark as if it were dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, people along the path of totality will see the sun’s corona, the white ring usually washed out by the bright light of the sun.

Outside the path of totality, the moon moved between the sun and Earth — but the three didn’t line up perfectly. Only a part of the sun was covered, giving it a crescent-like shape.

WATCH | The first glimpse of totality in Mexico: 

VIDEO | ‘Oh my goodness!’: The moment a total eclipse appeared

15 hours ago

Duration 1:03

As the moon blocks the sun over Mazatlán, Mexico — one of the first parts of North America to experience totality — CBC’s Heather Hiscox and Astronomy in Action’s Ryan Marciniak break down what people are seeing.

After Monday, the next total solar eclipse over North America won’t be until Aug. 23, 2044.

Beyond that, this event was particularly special because the path of totality passed over densely populated parts of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. (Most solar eclipses happen over the ocean.)

This one was also a longer show, with darkness lasting nearly two minutes longer over some areas in the path of totality than the last solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.

Yes. It’s always dangerous to look at the sun with the naked eye. Space agencies and ophthalmologists agree that looking at a partial solar eclipse without approved eye protection can cause lasting eye damage. The Canadian Space Agency and NASA have both extended advice for protecting your vision.

Eclipse glasses are sold at a variety of stores, both in person and online, but it’s important to check for one key feature: Your glasses should be marked with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 12312-2 code. That code specifies the properties that a solar viewer should have to protect your eyes.

Photographers don’t recommend it. Just like the immense amount of direct light from the sun can damage your eyes, it can damage the lens of a camera.

If you’re really compelled to take a photo of the sun, photographers say you should cover the lens with a solar filter — though they say their favourite photos are the ones that captured people as they experience the show.

Busier than usual. Many photographers and eclipse chasers spent months, if not years, planning for the total solar eclipse. Some have spent thousands of dollars travelling to what they hoped would be the best vantage point. Cities in the path of totality expected hundreds of thousands of people to flood their communities on Monday, potentially creating traffic jams. (Niagara Falls, Ont., was expected to be so crowded that the region declared a state of emergency 11 days in advance.

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