Astronomy Cafe – April 29, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Observatory Tour video for GA – David Lee
    • Would like some live video
  • RASC General Assembly – May 4 & 5, 2024 – Lauri Roche
    • $15 for whole event
    • Bill Weir & Randy Enkin giving presentations Saturday morning
    • Gather Town – Saturday evening
  • Eclipse photos for 2025 Observers’ Calendar – submission deadline tomorrow
  • Street Lighting in Uplands – Dave Robinson
    • Dark sky friendly fixtures in original design, but overruled by Oak Bay Council after public hearing
    • Victoria Centre held a one hour meeting with councillors
    • Issue being taken back to council to reconsider a better option
    • Possible impact on Cattle Point dark sky site if planned fixtures are installed
  • Vancouver Island Science Fair – Randy Enkin
    • 63rd regional science fair for Vancouver Island
    • 100 participants this year
    • Transiting Exoplanet Data project, and two other astronomy related project
    • Prize from Victoria Centre awarded – youth memberships
    • Sending plants into high orbit using a balloon – Nathan Hellner-Mestleman
  • Cosmic Wonder – Nathan Hellner-Mestleman
    • Book launch event at Bolen Books on May 7th – Bob MacDonald interviewing Nathan
  • Chris Gainor
    • May 8th speaker for May 8th UVic meeting? Possibly a members’ night instead.
    • James Webb Space Telescope – beautiful new image of Horsehead Nebula
  • Astronomy Day – May 18th – Randy Enkin, Lauri Roche
    • Planning is going well
    • May 14th is final planning meeting, so email will be used for event planning
    • Royal BC Museum – daytime 10AM-3PM
      • Victoria Day weekend means traffic in the will be very congested, so volunteers should plan accordingly
      • Need volunteer to let cars have access for unloading on Saturday morning – contact Lauri Roche (
    • Observatory Hill – evening 7:30PM-11PM
      • Tickets will be available two weeks ahead of time – event
      • Presentation – Looking for precious metals at the end of the galactic rainbow – Dr. Trystyn Berg
      • Cosmic Wonder – book selling – Nathan Hellner-Mestleman
      • Refreshed shop with lots of stock
      • Volunteers with telescopes needed – contact Aimee Rawson (
      • Three Vesper telescopes – digital telescopes for outreach
      • Trainees for 16″ telescope – Sherry Buttnor is the teacher – contact Lauri Roche
  • Beginners SIG – now being held on May 15th – David Lee
  • Eclipse Topics – Randy Enkin
    • Dorner Telescope Museum visit at RASC in Toronto – hosted by Randall Rosenfeld
    • Tables of the Moon and Sun – historical book by Jean Meiss with Peter Broughton’s 1982 notes and letter
    • A Sign in the Sky: Dating the League of the Haudenosaunee – by Barbara Mann and Jerry Fields – eclipse report from Indigenous Mohawks (possibly Aug 22, 1142)
  • Astronomy History
    • Wray-Bryden telescope – more information and video presentation is needed for the Centre of the Universe – contact Lauri Roche (
    • Gonzales Observatory – history
    • Looking Up – Peter Broughton – book of the history of RASC
  • FDAO Star Party – May 4th 7:30PM – Bob McDonald presenting

Three Astronomy Cafes left before summer.

Astronomy Cafe – April 22, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • General Assembly – Lauri Roche
    • Invitations sent out by email to all RASC members
    • $15 for two days of online activities
    • Speaker on Saturday night
    • Gather Town – meet and greet
    • Sunday Night Astronomy Show – from New Brunswick
  • Voyager 1 & 2 – Garry Sedun, Chris Gainor
    • Voyager 1 now communicating again, once a fix was installed
    • Launched in 1977
    • Now in heliopause – outside influence of the Sun
  • Regional Science Fair – Lauri Roche (
  • Astrophotography – Dave Payne
    • Triangulum Galaxy – by John McDonald
    • NGC 2403 – about the same size bur further away
    • Markarian’s Chain of galaxies in Virgo
      • 18 hours of exposure
      • Tried 50 hours of exposure to find more Ha data
  • David Lee (
    • Beginners’ SIG – moved to 14th
  • Recurrent T Coronae Borealis
  • John McDonald
    • Some good books by Carlo Rovelli, cosmological physicist
      • Seven Lessons on physics
      • White Holes – time reversed version to Black Holes
      • Books available in local bookshops,online and audio versions
    • 2024 Total Solar Eclipse – Composite photo of a series from partial to Totality
  • Uplands street lighting – update from Dave Robinson
    • Met with involved parties in Oak Bay
    • Will meet further with mayor and engineer to try to head off the poor choices to try to get responsible night lighting when heritage street lights are replaced
  • Garry Sedun
    • Lava Lake on Io, moon of Jupiter
    • Recent Solar Eclipse caused time shifts for satellites
  • Chris Gainor
    • Alan Dyer’s Chasing the Cross-continental Eclipse
      • Texas to Ontario to Quebec to successfully photograph the eclipse
    • Being President – odd emails
      • Where is George Ball’s observatory?
      • RASA 14″ telescope – owners want to install it at our site on Observatory Hill
  • Inflatable planetarium available – contact Lauri Roche (
  • International Astronomy Day in Victoria – Lauri Roche
    • Posters and other graphics to share event with others
    • Contact Lauri or Randy ( to volunteer
  • Astrophotography SIG – this Wednesday – Dave Payne

President’s Message – April 2024

Posted by as President's Message

What else can I write about or even talk about other than that celestial event that took place on April 8?

I had seen the 1979 eclipse in Manitoba and the 2017 eclipse in Oregon. After 2017, all us eclipse addicts faced a difficult decision: where should we go to see the 2024 total solar eclipse? The decision wasn’t simple because of the path of this eclipse and the fact that April weather is more problematical than the August weather conditions in 2017.

In part because of the pandemic, I didn’t make arrangements for the eclipse years in advance as I had done for 2017. As 2024 dawned, I concluded it was too late to arrange a trip to Mexico or Texas for a reasonable price. I know many people in Toronto, but I felt that too many people chasing the eclipse in Hamilton and environs might complicate things. So I decided to go to Windsor, Ontario, just outside the path of totality. We have relatives there, and it would be relatively easy to cross the border there to chase the eclipse in Ohio if necessary. But it was still a big gamble, and I made sure I had other things to do to justify the trip.

As April 8 got closer, weather predictions called for clouds in southern Ontario, and when I arrived in Toronto on April 4, I was greeted with cold, cloudy and rainy weather. Two days before the eclipse as Audrey and I made our way to Windsor, the skies cleared. Things were looking more promising, but clouds were still predicted for the eclipse.

The night before, the prediction was still more promising for Ohio than the Windsor area, and Ohio locations were closer to the centreline of the eclipse, which promised a longer period of totality. I prepared to cross the border.

April 8 dawned in Windsor with blue skies. The forecast still called for clouds in the mid afternoon, when the eclipse was due to take place. The forecasts for Ohio called for longer periods of cloudiness in the afternoon, which I feared meant thicker clouds, and so I decided to stay in Canada.

Audrey and I, along with her sister and her husband, drove south from Windsor through Amherstberg into the path of totality. Many eclipse chasers in the area were already arriving in Point Pelee Park, which was closer to the centreline but involved very limited access, so I thought we might set up in Leamington. Before we got there, we found a great spot to watch the eclipse at Colchester Harbour and Beach. The RASC Windsor Centre had set up tents and telescopes there, a restaurant, coffee shop and other facilities were nearby, and scores of people were already settling in to watch the eclipse over Lake Erie.

Looking south across Lake Erie, we saw a bank of clouds that everyone hoped would stay where it was. But true to the prediction, the clouds moved our way and covered the sun as the partial phase of the eclipse began a little before 1 p.m. Fortunately, the clouds weren’t very thick.

Finally, at about 3:12 p.m., totality began. We were amongst the first to see totality that day from Canadian soil. The transition from needing eclipse glasses to full totality with the naked eye seemed to be prolonged to me, but finally we got our 90 seconds of totality and dark skies. Venus was plainly visible through the thin layer of cloud, but I don’t recall seeing Jupiter or any other celestial object. The incandescent but not overpowering glow of the Sun’s corona took centre stage.

In the moments before and after totality, the lighting of the area took on a strange hue. During totality, my viewpoint overlooking Lake Erie allowed me to see the approaching “sunset” to the west and the receding “sunrise” to the east. During this time, I took a couple of photos of the sun and of the light effects around the horizon with my iPhone, and I set up my iPad to film totality. I wanted to spend most of totality enjoying the view rather than messing with cameras.

All too soon, totality was over, and soon people started to leave. We remained for most of the rest of the eclipse to savour the incredible spectacle. By the time we got back to Windsor, all the clouds had disappeared. So had the crowds, and as a result we encountered no traffic jams.

The hours and days that followed became a gigantic debrief on this event. Who got a good view of the eclipse? Who got skunked by the weather? The evening of April 8 I joined many of you in an online Astronomy Café.

It turned out that Joe Carr, John McDonald and Bill Weir got a great look at the eclipse from their cruise ship, The Discovery Princess, and the poor weather in Texas inspired Leslie Welsh to stop in Arkansas to catch the eclipse. Thicker clouds in the Niagara region obscured the eclipse for Jill Sinkwich and Lauri Roche. Marje Welchframe saw parts of the eclipse through clouds in Kingston. The weather was much better in the Montreal area, to the delight of Randy Enkin, Chris Purse, and Brian and Nathan Hellner-Mestelman. Alex Schmid had clear skies in Sherbrooke. The clouds parted for Clayton Uyeda in New Brunswick.

Victoria Centre members’ photos of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

Back in Victoria, David Lee, Kirsten Pedersen and others entertained a good crowd at a rainy Centre of the Universe during the partial solar eclipse here.

Before I came home, I heard about RASC Executive Director Jenna Hinds’ successful eclipse trip to Illinois. A few days later I attended a meeting of the RASC Mississauga Centre in person, and I heard about more experiences along the path of totality, including the troubled weather in Texas, which also affected our good friend Peter Jedicke from the London Centre.

So the viewing conditions for the 2024 total solar eclipse turned out to be less than perfect but better than most of us could have hoped for.

Now the question arises – when is the next one? August 12, 2026, in Greenland, Iceland and Spain. In North America, the wait will go on until August 23, 2044. How long will our waits go on? Those decisions are for another time.

Astronomy Cafe – Apr 15, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Oak Bay Lighting in Uplands – Dave Robinson
    • Resident pressure stopped replacement of existing historic lighting
    • Proposed lighting upgrade is a poor idea
    • There are good options available for “historic” light fixtures
    • RASC Victoria should approach the mayor
    • Email to
  • Solar Eclipse Reports
    • Aboard the Discovery Princess – 125nmi SW from Mazatlan, Mexico
      • Joe Carr
        • John McDonald and Bill Weir and his wife from Victoria were also onboard the ship
        • Pastry chefs served eclipse cookies
        • Princess Cruises and the ship’s officers were very well prepared for this special cruise, giving out eclipse glasses to both passengers and crew, communicating the ship’s position and heading would be, and having two experts aboard to give presentations on the subject and answer questions.
        • Observed a beautiful Green Flash at sunset the night before the eclipse
        • Ships within a few miles: Zaandam, Koningsdam, Sh Diana, and Ruby Princess
        • John and Joe observed from Joe’s balcony, since it was on the side of the ship facing the Sun
        • Eclipse photos and videos
          • Partial phase
          • Projected images of the eclipsed Sun through deck chair webbing
          • Totality, including prominences, plasma streamers, Diamond Ring at C3 and the planets Jupiter and Venus near the Sun
          • Wide field time lapse video of the eclipse
        • A 10ºC temperature drop was measured with a portable weather station during the eclipse
      • John McDonald
        • Eclipse shadows spelling words
        • Lots of great food onboard the ship
        • Observed and photographed partial phases and Totality
        • It was very dark overhead but quite light around us
        • Lots of excitement onboard among the passengers after the eclipse
      • Bill Weir
        • Observed from the top deck with a Coronado PST for Ha and a small Apo refractor with white light filter
        • Night sky viewing with Dr. Matt or Prof. Shelly on the top deck
        • Showed lots of passengers solar images
        • Saw Jupiter, Venus and a glimpse of 12P/Pons-Brooks comet
        • Corona was a spectacular flower-like apparition
        • Enrichment Speakers
        • The ship was remarkably stable
    • Sherbrooke, Quebec – Alex Schmid
      • Drove to Quebec and back from BC!
      • Problems with telescope tracking and camera
      • Perfectly clear on eclipse day
      • Observed prominences, Venus and Jupiter
      • Lots of traffic on the roads after eclipse
    • Miramachi, New Brunswick – Clayton Uyeda
      • Had concerns about all the clouds, but it cleared
      • Observed from a remote site with his wife
      • Twilight but not dark
      • Indigenous smudging, drumming nearby
      • Students are back in Victoria High School. John Geehan trying to start up the trans-Neptunian Objects initiative with the high school’s new observing deck.
    • Central Texas – Peter Jedicke
      • Drove from Ontario
      • Weather was iffy, but it cleared for lots of glimpses of the eclipse
      • Enjoyed reports from dozens of people spread out all along the path of totality
    • Kingston, Ontario – Marjie Welchframe
      • Cloudy during the eclipse, but usable observing
    • Beauharnois, Québec – Chris Purse
      • Drove from Kingston, Ontario to much clearer skies
    • Montreal, Québec – Randy Enkin
      • A family visit worked out well, weather-wise
    • Photos of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse – by RASC Victoria Centre members
  • Activities along eclipse path – Randy Enkin
    • AirB&B occupancy map
    • Traffic maps and delays
    • Air traffic
    • submit observations
    • Eye pain queries
  • Victoria Centre Observatory – David Lee, Randy Enkin and Reg Dunkley
    • 7 observers at recent observing session on April 13th
    • A glimpse of 12P/Pons-Brooks comet just after sunset
    • Mike Nash and Randy Enkin observed and photographed the Moon
    • Used a half hour on the Takahashi telescope to sketch Theophilius crater
    • Some first-time VCO observers had an rewarding experience
  • Chris Gainor
    • Met with Jenna Hinds at RASC National
      • Insurance coverage for VCO will be put in place
      • GA planned for May 4-5
    • Shot a video during the eclipse from Colchester Harbour, Ontario – blog
  • Upcoming Activities
    • Council meeting on April 23, 2024
    • Astronomy Day planning meeting on April 25, 2024

Marjie Welchframe will host next week’s Astro Cafe on April 22, 2024.

Astronomy Cafe – Apr 8, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting video transcript

Total Solar Eclipse 2024 reports

  • Montreal, Quebec – Brian & Nathan Hellner-Mestelman
    • Ice crystal 15º ring
    • Travelled from southern Ontario
  • Montreal, Quebec – Randy Enkin
    • Family eclipse experience covered by a CBC journalist
    • Ice crystal 15º ring
    • Expo 67 island had 150,000 observers
    • Interviews: CFAX, Times-Colonist, CBC
    • Observed: “pink” fingers coming inward to the Moon
    • Temperature drop
    • Eclipse cookies
  • Windsor, Ontario – Chris Gainor
    • Drove south to get into the path of totality in Colchester Harbour to observe over Lake Erie
    • High cloud didn’t diminish the view
    • 1979 eclipse was in bitter cold, 2017 in Oregon
    • 1.5 minutes of Totality
    • First eclipse for family – they were impressed
    • Video of the eclipse experience
  • St. Catherines, Ontario – Lauri Roche
    • Heavy cloud, but saw some glimpses of partial eclipses, but no totality
    • Lots of observers at Brock University didn’t see much
    • Temperature drop
    • Sudden darkening during totality, despite not being able to observe it
  • 30km west of Montreal, Quebec – Chris Purse
    • Drove from Kingston, Ontario to western Quebec on 401
    • Hazy conditions before totality
    • Diamond Ring was spectacular
    • Lots of detail visible during totality
    • Temperature drop
    • Lots of traffic on the roads as they drove back to Ottawa
  • Ron Fisher
    • Daughter in Hamilton reported the sky cleared enough to experience totality through the clouds
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario – Jill Sinkwich
    • Unfortunately thick clouds obscured the whole eclipse
    • Temperature drop, sounds, darkness
  • Mazatlan, Mexico – reported by Dave Payne on behalf of Joe Carr
    • Photos by Joe aboard the Discovery Princess cruise ship offshore from Mazatlan
    • Bill Weir and his wife and John McDonald were also aboard
    • Miles Waite was nearby on the sister ship Ruby Princess
    • Some thin high cloud, but beautiful conditions
    • Eclipse cookies
    • Diamond Ring
    • Several prominences
    • More complete report from Joe and John next week
  • 2024 Eclipse Weather – Reg Dunkley
    • Forecast models
    • Review of weather conditions and forecasts along the path of totality
    • Animation showing the Moon’s shadow travelling across North America
    • Review of weather conditions over Victoria
  • Partial Eclipse from Victoria – David Lee & Kirsten Pedersen
    • Despite the weather and 17% eclipse, attendance at the Centre of the Universe event was very good
    • Nothing much to see through heavy cloud
    • CHEK and CTV interviews by David Lee and Dennis Crabtree
  • Next Total Solar Eclipses
    • 2026 over Iceland and Spain
    • 2044 over North America

Astronomy Cafe – March 25, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • MMT Observatory – Kali Salmas, Queue Observer
    • Mount Hopkins, 55km south of Tucson, Arizona
    • Originally had six 1.8m mirrors, 4.5m collecting area
    • Now a single 6.5m mirror with 3 secondaries: f/5, f/9, f/15 (adaptive)
    • Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory facility on the mountain
    • Instrumentation
      • Binospec – wide-field opitcal spectrograph
      • Hectochelle/Hectospec – 300 fibre optic spectroscope, robotically reconfigured
      • MMIRS – Infrared spectroscopy, nitrogen cooled
    • Magellan and MMT share instrument designs
    • Operating Staff
      • Telescope Operator – 3
      • Queue Observer – 3
    • Data acquisition
      • Weather, tracking, seeing, turbulence, lenticular cloud formation
      • 7.5-12 hours observing time
      • Moon phase
    • Target Considerations
      • Both manual and automated queue scheduler
      • Sensor being used
      • Magnitude range: 11-26
      • Moon phase
    • Setup on Target – telescope operator and queue observer work together
    • Taking Data – calibration frames, guide stars, check data, add notes, move to next target
    • Q&A
  • Astro-tourism in Northern Arizona – Dave Payne
    • Flagstaff area
    • Barringer Crater – Largest meteorite at 150′ across
    • Lowell Observatory
      • Many domes
      • Original observatory built in 1894
      • Historic 24″ Refractor
      • Privately financed by Percival Lowell to map Mars
      • History of discoveries and innovations by other astronomers at the site
      • Clyde Tombaugh – discovered Pluto with a 12″ telescope
      • 5m Discovery telescope – currently being used, has 5 instruments
  • Recurrent T Coronae Borealis – David Lee
  • Chris Gainor
    • Chandra X-ray space telescope may go dark due to impending budget cuts – 25 years of work done. Save Chandra
    • David Lane, past president of RASC has died. He was the author of Earth Centred Universe planetarium software, operated a popular robotic telescope from his home in Nova Scotia, and was on staff at St. Mary’s University until his retirement.

There is no Astronomy Cafe on April 1 due to Easter holiday. The April 8 meeting will be online only, since many members will be away to observe the Total Solar Eclipse from the path of Totality.

Astronomy Cafe – Mar 5, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the meeting

  • 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (TSE) Information and Discussion
    • Randy Enkin
      • Observing the 2024 TSE from Montreal, Quebec
      • Review of the cosmic geometry for a solar eclipse
      • Track of Totality
      • Totality versus partial eclipse
      • How long have you been in the shadow?– list of top eclipse chasers
    • Joe Carr – 4 TSEs
    • Mike Webb – 8 TSEs
      • Totality flies by quickly, so relax and experience it
    • David Lee – 2107 in Oregon
      • Be sure to practice with your observing and photography gear ahead of time
    • Leslie Welch – 9 TSEs
      • Be sure to visually observe and experience the whole eclipse
    • Neil Banera – 2 TSEs
      • Luckily the cloud parted during Totality when observing from Austria
    • Lauri Roche – 2 TSEs
      • Observing the 2024 TSE from St. Catherines, Ontario
      • Solar Eclipse glasses available from the Centre of the Universe – about 100 left – email
      • – best Eclipse 2024 resource for teachers and students
      • Eclipse 2024 – RASC National listing of TSE events (scroll down)
      • 2024 Eclipse Ontario Education Bundle – comprehensive eclipse information for teachers and students
    • Reg Dunkley
      • Look at this forecast site starting two days before eclipse day – Astronomical Cloud Cover – refer to Eastern United States – 12 UTC
      • Video of 2017 TSE from Western Oregon University’s observing field
    • Leah & Cathy – observing 2024 TSE from Niagara-On-The-Lake
  • SIGs – David Lee
  • Chris Gainor
    • 2017 TSE from Madras Oregon
    • Observing the 2024 TSE from Ontario, near the USA border
    • Lauri Roche – CHEK News profile – Inspiring Island Women
    • RASC Victoria Centre Council Meeting on Thursday evening
  • Astrophotography – Matt Neild – Bubble Nebula
  • UVic Monthly meeting – Reg Dunkley
  • RASC Victoria Social Dinner – Lauri Roche
    • Over 60 attended last Monday, Feb 26th
    • Many new people
    • Thanks to all the organizers – a fun evening!

Astronomy Cafe – Feb 5, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Intro – Jeff Pivnick
  • EnceladusAPOD Feb 5, 2023 – Jeff Pivnick
    • Smaller moon of Saturn discovered by William Herschel
    • The Great Forty 48″ reflector in Slough near Windsor – Herschel’s telescope
    • Cassini Mission
      • Discoveries: magnetic field disruptions, jets of water from “tiger stripe” fissures, wobbly orbital period caused by loose crust
      • 2:1 resonance with Dione results in elliptical orbit and interior heating of the ocean below the crust
      • Cassini division in Saturn’s rings – named for Gian Domenico Cassini, discoverer
      • Mimas 1:2 resonance with Cassini division
    • Diameter 504 kms, 14% liquid water
    • Discussion
  • Randy Enkin
  • Annual General Meeting – RASC Victoria Centre – Randy Enkin
    • Feb 12 7:00PM – Zoom meeting – info and special link to be sent to members
    • Victoria Centre’s Annual Report – contact Randy Enkin with your report
    • Financial Report
    • Election – Reg Dunkley
      • Chris Gainor has agreed to stand for President
      • We now have a full slate, but further nominations will be sought at the AGM
      • New Council will be seeking involvement from members for volunteering
      • We need a quorum of 25 members. If you cannot attend, contact Randy (or another member attending) to be your proxy for voting purposes.
  • Social Dinner – RASC Victoria Centre – Four Mile Pub – Feb 26th
    • Large parking lot, but please carpool if possible
    • Sound system with microphone and speaker will be used for speakers
    • Attendees please contact Marjie to RSVP by Feb 21st
  • SIGs – David Lee
    • Beginners SIG – tomorrow night’s presentation by Randy Enkin on observing the Moon
    • Citizen Science SIG cancelled
    • Astrophotography SIG – 4th Wednesday – hosted by Brock
  • Astronomy Books – David Lee
    • Observer’s Sky Atlas – Erich Karkoschka
    • 21st Century Atlas of the Moon – Charles Wood, Maurice Collins
  • Astronomy Cafe – March 4th
  • Scitech Daily
    • Perseverance Mars Lander – sedimentary layers discovered by ground penetrating radar and samples taken
    • Ingenuity helicopter has crashed

Next Astro Cafe – March 4th – none for the rest of February

Total Solar Eclipse – April 8, 2024

Posted by as Observing Highlights

Eclipse Photos by members

2024 Total Solar Eclipse gallery – members’ photos

Reports from our members

Southern Ontario – Chris Gainor – blog

“…we drove south from Windsor through Amherstberg into the path of totality. Many eclipse chasers in the area were already arriving in Point Pelee Park…we found a great spot to watch the eclipse at Colchester Harbour and Beach. The Windsor Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) had set up tents and telescopes there, a restaurant, coffee shop and other facilities were nearby, and scores of people were already settling in to watch the eclipse over Lake Erie.”

“…Finally, at about 3:12 p.m., totality began. We were amongst the first to see totality that day from Canadian soil. The transition from needing eclipse glasses to full totality with the naked eye seemed to be prolonged to me, but finally we got our 90 seconds of totality and dark skies. Venus was plainly visible through the thin layer of cloud…”

Offshore from Mazatlan, Mexico – Joe Carr – photos

Total Solar Eclipse observed from the Discovery Princess, 150 nmi SW of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
2024-04-08, 11:06:04 AM
Diamond Ring

I observed my fifth Total Solar Eclipse from the Discovery Princess cruise ship, 150 nmi SW of Mazatlan. We had near-perfect skies thanks to the superb skills of the bridge officers, and my balcony faced south as the ship tracked the path of totality at the appointed time under the Moon’s shadow, making observing and photographing this spectacle easy and comfortable.

During the 4.5 minutes of totality at 11am local time, both Venus and Jupiter were visible, and watching the shadow approach from the west and retreat eastward was a lovely sight. Every solar eclipse is unique – this apparition offered beautiful, large solar prominences either side of a breathtaking diamond ring as totality ended at C3. I measured a 10ºC temperature drop with my portable weather station as the eclipse progressed from C1 to C2 and C3.

My fellow Victoria Centre members John McDonald and Bill Weir were aboard the same ship as me, and Miles Waite was enjoying the same beautiful view while aboard the Ruby Princess, only a few miles away from us. We remembered the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse (and Diane Bell) at breakfast when the ship’s pastry chefs served eclipse cookies.

Original Eclipse Information – posted earlier

2017 Total Solar Eclipse - plasma streamers at totality - photo by John McDonald
2017 Total Solar Eclipse – plasma streamers at totality – photo by John McDonald

If you haven’t observed a Total Solar Eclipse, this is your chance!

A Total Solar Eclipse is a rare astronomical event (2017 was the last one), and it is even rarer for one to occur in locations that are easy to travel to. Although only a partial eclipse is observable from western Canada, the eclipse tracks diagonally across North America (southwest to northeast) on April 8, 2024. In fact, everyone in North America is within striking distance of being able to observe this amazing event, where the Moon slides in front of the Sun for a few brief minutes, suddenly and totally obscuring the Sun.


The eclipse tracks diagonally across North America, starting in Mazatlan, Mexico, across Texas and other states in the middle of the USA, tracking across southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Dedicated eclipse chasers are seeking the best prospects of clear skies by travelling to Mexico, but there are lots of Canadians planning to observe from locations near home, despite the chance of clear skies being poor at that time of year.

Map of eclipse track across North America
Eclipse track across North America – Jay Anderson, Eclipsophile

Time and Date’s 2024 Total Solar Eclipse site gives all the facts and figures required to find and enjoy the eclipse, including an interactive zoomable map showing the eclipse track and links to livestreams if you want to experience this eclipse from the comforts of home.

What if you can’t travel to the track of totality?

Partial Solar Eclipse from SW British Columbia
Partial Solar Eclipse from SW British Columbia – Time and Date’s interactive eclipse map

You can still see a partial solar eclipse from anywhere in North America. Use Time and Date’s interactive eclipse map to get the calculated timing for the eclipse in the area you plan to observe from. Click and zoom to your area, then click on your observing spot to see a popup telling you how long the eclipse will last and what you will see.

From our location in southwest BC in Canada, a small notch out of the solar disk will appear on eclipse day – obscuring about 17% of the Sun. Not exciting compared with the dramatic Total Solar Eclipse observed from the centreline, but still an interesting apparition to observe, assuming the 76% chance of cloud cover doesn’t prevail!


Weather always plays a big part in any solar eclipse, so being mobile is key to improving the odds of actually seeing the event should clouds threaten to obscure the Sun at the critical moment. Our very own Jay Anderson (former RASC Journal editor) is a weather expert, and specializes in forecasting weather for solar eclipses. His Eclipseophile website offers sage advice backed up with maps and charts depicting weather prospects for each eclipse happening in the world for the next several years. Read Jay’s analysis of the area you propose to observe from, so you understand how the weather might behave on eclipse day. Topography, elevation changes and local factors play into how the weather evolves throughout the day for a particular locale. Become a local weather expert, and you increase your chances for success!

Map showing the probability of clouds along the eclipse track
Probability of clouds along the eclipse track – Jay Anderson, Eclipsophile


Observing a Total Solar Eclipse is pretty easy, however that said, if you haven’t done it before, it’s nice to have experienced eclipse observers around to help you get the most out of your time under the Moon’s shadow. Obviously the time of total eclipse is the main event, however other things happen beforehand, afterwards, and during an eclipse that are worthwhile.

Uranus, Jupiter, Comet Pons-Brooks (12P), Mercury, eclipsed Sun, Venus, Neptune, Saturn - diagram from Starry Night Pro Plus 8
Uranus, Jupiter, Comet Pons-Brooks (12P), Mercury, eclipsed Sun, Venus, Neptune, Saturn – diagram from Starry Night Pro Plus 8

Although the eclipsed Sun is the main target, look around in the darkened sky for planets and other bright celestial objects. There is a good chance eclipse observers will be able to see: Uranus, Jupiter, Comet Pons-Brooks (12P), Mercury, Venus, Neptune and Saturn! Of course, the sky only darkens for the observer if they are in the path of totality, so anyone observing a partial eclipse won’t see any solar system bodies (except the Sun itself).

Be sure to try out any gear you propose to take with you before you leave. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars (or your eyes), camera lenses and telescopes you are bringing along. Remember, you only have a few minutes to see totality!

Finally, relax and enjoy the day. Arrive early. Try to manage your stress level. Just sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses handy, and enjoy!

Safely observing a solar eclipse – read about how to safely observe a solar eclipse

DIY Box Pinhole Projector – to safely observe the eclipse with only a box and some aluminum foil!

Victoria RASC eclipse chasers on the field observing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse from Oregon
Victoria RASC eclipse chasers on the field observing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse from Oregon


If this is your first time experiencing a Total Solar Eclipse, don’t risk missing the eclipse by fiddling with cameras! Observing through (filtered) binoculars is a low risk way to capture the moments of totality in your memory.

For dedicated photographers, using their gear to capture a Total Solar Eclipse can be a right of passage, and has the potential to either be a highlight of your lifetime photography experience (if you succeed) or end up being a point of shame you never want to talk about again (if you fail). Take test photos of the Sun weeks beforehand, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. Always have a backup plan for when (not if) gear breaks, or you simply can’t get it to work properly. Here are some scenarios for consideration for those who are brave enough to want to multitask during totality – a once-in-a-lifetime event (least difficult listed first):

  1. Use a smart phone on automatic mode to take photos or videos of the scene around you
  2. Use a camera and wide angle lens mounted on a tripod to record the landscape, people and the eclipsed Sun (and perhaps stars and planets) in the sky. Take a random series of shots or set the camera to shoot automatically at regular intervals to create a time lapse series.
  3. Use a camera and moderate telephoto lens on a tripod to shoot video of the eclipse in the sky. Keep the telephoto lens short (80mm to perhaps 135mm) to let the eclipsed Sun pass through the frame.
  4. Use a camera and long telephoto lens on a tripod to shoot photographs of the eclipsed Sun. Take photos of the eclipse at the important moments: plasma streamers, Bailey’s Beads, Diamond Ring, totality, and partial eclipse phases.
  5. Use a telescope on a tracking mount with a camera on the back to capture closeup details of the eclipse events such as Bailey’s Beads and the Diamond Ring.

Expansion of the list above, with important details about setup, rehearsing, and special gear you may wish to consider purchasing can be found in this article: How to photograph a solar eclipse, with Alan Dyer – EarthSky.


RASC Eclipse chasers setup in the Libyan Sahara - March 29, 2006
RASC Eclipse chasers observing from the Libyan Sahara – March 29, 2006

Dedicated eclipse chasers and tour operators have made reservations at least two years ago at all the prime locations for this eclipse along the centreline where the weather is best. That’s not to say last-minute travellers are shut out from experiencing this eclipse – by planning carefully and compromising a bit, it can still work. Flights to hotspots like Mazatlan a couple of days before to a couple of days after April 8th will be fully booked, as will hotels and guest houses. Flying to nearby airports and staying in accommodation outside the centreline can make sense. Driving into the track of totality early on eclipse day can work for many who have not planned ahead.

Many of the USA states the eclipse track runs through will not have crowds of people once you are on country roads. With careful planning using the interactive eclipse and weather maps, it is certainly possible to observe the eclipse from the side of the road, parking lots, campsites, or farmer’s fields. Interstate highways which are in the track of totality will experience congestion, depending on how close to civilization the location is. When driving, expect long delays even for 24 hours or so after an eclipse as all those eclipse chasers try to get home! To avoid that anxiety, plan to stay a day or two longer near your observing site before commencing your road trip home.


If this will be your first time observing a total solar eclipse, no doubt you have many questions and concerns, and don’t know where to start. The resources presented here may be overwhelming. Please ask any questions you might have about eclipses at Astronomy Cafe, held each Monday evening by RASC Victoria Centre. Your fellow RASC members have observed solar eclipses before…they can help!

If you are reading this from other locations, find your local RASC Centre in eastern Canada which have posted eclipse events and information – Eclipse 2024 RASC.


Astronomy Cafe – Jan 22, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcipt of meeting

  • Intro – Jim Cliffe
  • Space Telescopes – Chris Gainor
    • How Long Will Hubble Last? – Sky & Telescope article
    • US Postal Service issued two stamps with images from JWST – $30.45 and $9.85 for their express service
  • David Lee
    • Inside the Star Factory – book profiling JWST by Chris Gunn (photography) & Christopher Wanjek
    • Makers SIG – meeting online this Thursday
      • Citizen Science – transitioning from analog to digital recording for occultations – IOTA
      • Imaging computing platforms – including Astroberry
    • Astrophotography SIG – meeting online this Wednesday – Dave Payne
      • Camera settings
      • Photo showcase
      • Q&A
  • Canadian stamp for the Total Solar Eclipse – Lauri Roche
    • March 14th issue day
  • Eclipse viewing glasses – Lauri Roche
  • Astrophotos
    • Dave Payneonline gallery
      • Flying Dragon Nebula – molecular cloud in Cygnus – taken last summer
      • Medusa by Garvacchio
      • Medusa Planetary Nebula in Gemini – RGB and narrowband taken earlier this month
    • Brock Johnstononline gallery
      • Christmas Tree and Fox Fur Nebula
      • Network Nebula – part of the Veil Nebula
      • Crab Nebula
    • Astrophoto Processing – discussion by Ken McGill, David Lee, Brock Johnston, Jim Cliffe
  • Astronomy Information Sources – Susan Grady posed the question to the group
  • Panic! Early results regarding the morphological and structural properties of galaxies seen with the James Webb Space Telescope – UVic, Wed, March 13 – Dr. Leonardo Ferreira, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Physics & Astronomy
  • Young people’s astronomy club? – question by Garry Sedun
    • Some High schools and Middle schools offer astronomy groups
    • Discussion about how to reach out to younger people
    • Youth under 18 need family member who is also a member if VCO visit is desired – Chris Purse
    • Using smartphones on a telescope for imaging – simple mounting platforms work well
  • FDAO – Lauri Roche –
    • Games Night at this Saturday’s Star Party – 6:30-10PM – NRC, FDAO & RASC teams
    • FDAO Strategic Planning coming up
  • Victoria Centre – upcoming events– Reg Dunkley & Lauri Roche
    • AGM – Feb12 7:00PM – online zoom to all members
      • Election
      • Financial Report
      • Awards announcements
    • Social Evening – Four Mile Pub – Feb 28th – sign up with Ken Atkinson
      • Socialize with your fellow astronomers and friends over some good food and drink
  • Lunar and Mars Missions – group discussion