Edmonton astronomy buffs take a shine to solar eclipse – Edmonton Journal

Yulia Shevtsov and her son Steven Shevtsov, 3, watch the partial eclipse of the Sun during a viewing party outside Telus World of Science, Monday Aug. 21, 2017. David Bloom / Postmedia

The queue of anxious fans snaked around the building, several hundred people deep. While they waited, the starstruck gazed at the object of their affection from a distance using filters for safe viewing, of course.

Mondays partial solar eclipse attracted neophytes and astronomy nerds alike to the observatory outside the Telus World of Science for a glimpse of the celestial event. Using technology as varied as a six-inch hydrogen alpha refractor telescope to a pinhole punched in a cereal box, viewers were anxious to see the dark circle of the moon obscure up to 70 percent of the sun.

Its known as one of natures greatest spectacles. We see the sun basically disappear behind a big black disc its something most people have a hard time comprehending. I know I do, myself, said Michael Breitkreutz, a science presenter managing the telescope viewings Monday.

Lucky viewers in a band across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina could see a total solar eclipse where the moon lines up perfectly between the Earth and the Sun, blocking much of the Suns light for several minutes.

In Edmonton, some enthusiasts lined up outside the 11211 142 St. observatory as early as 7 a.m. to get their hands on viewing filters which have sold out across North America. Looking directly at the sun during an eclipse can cause permanent eye damage. In the observatory, people peeked through five telescopes, including the hydrogen alpha refractor, which reveals a red-tinged suns flares and sunspots in higher detail.

Eight-year-old Luken Hicks lined up two hours in advance for his look at the moon taking a bite out of the sun.

He loves science and I love science, and its not very often we get to see this kind of thing, his mom Brytani McLeod said.

Sherwood Park friends Dean Gronman, 18, and Jade Oliver, 18, also lined up early for a look. Gronman had considered travelling to the U.S. to see the full eclipse, but balked when he saw some of the prices. Oliver is into astrology, and the Capricorn has enjoyed reading her horoscopes as the eclipse date approached.

Total eclipses are totally awesome, said 74-year-old David Rolls, as he sat on the grass in Coronation Park Monday morning, an old film camera strapped to the tip of his 9.4-millimetre telescope. He planned to add to his collection of eclipse photographs, some of which have been published in astronomy magazines.

Hes seen total eclipses in Tuktoyuktuk and Manitoba, and plans to travel to Ontario to see another total eclipse in 2024.

The next total solar eclipse viewable from Edmonton will be in 2044. The last one was about 600 years ago, Breitkreutz said.

Fellow astronomy enthusiast Larry Wood kicked back in a lawn chair while strangers lined up to glance into his giant, homemade telescope. The amateur astronomer made the 65-kilogram device in a friends garage about 30 years ago. Children and shorter adults clambered onto a stepladder to peek into the eyepiece on the giant cylinder.

Larry Wood looks through the viewfinder of his homemade telescope during a partial solar eclipse in Coronation Park on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. Janet French / Edmonton Journal

Chris Kayes viewing apparatus was slightly less sophisticated. He stood in the park with a cardboard box on his head, a pinhole in the back showing light from a crescent-shaped sun on the inside.

jfrench@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/jantafrench

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Edmonton astronomy buffs take a shine to solar eclipse – Edmonton Journal

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