Get ready, uOttawa! How to safely view a solar eclipse

Office of the Chief Risk Officer
Solar Eclipse 2024
Health and Safety
Solar eclipses stand out as fascinating celestial events that capture our imaginations. This phenomenon occurs when the Moon temporarily blocks the Sun’s rays, casting a shadow on the Earth. While the beauty of a solar eclipse is undeniable, it’s crucial that we prioritize safety during these moments. The Office of the Chief Risk Officer would like to share some practical tips to ensure that your viewing experience is both enjoyable and safe.

Some places, such as Cornwall and Kingston, will see a total eclipse around 3:20 p.m. on April 8, 2024. Areas further north, such as Ottawa, will observe a partial eclipse in which about 98% of the Sun will be covered by the Moon, an event that will last from 2:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. See what this eclipse will look like in Ottawa.

How to safely observe the eclipse

Watch this video to learn about safe practices for observing a solar eclipse. (Credits: CSA, NASA). 

Protect your eyes first, then look up!

The most critical aspect of witnessing a solar eclipse is protecting your eyes. Never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection. Use solar viewing glasses or a handheld solar viewer that is ISO 12312-2 certified, both of which meet international safety standards.

*** Please note that there are no more eclipse glasses available. 
The University of Ottawa Library was distributing eclipse glasses for free to the university community! These glasses were available for pick up. First come, first served until supplies last.

DIY pinhole projector

If you don’t have eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer, you can use an indirect viewing method: a pinhole projector. This simple device allows you to witness the eclipse indirectly by projecting the Sun’s image onto a surface. It’s a safe and engaging way to experience the event with family and friends.

Telescopes and filters

If you are an astronomy enthusiast using a telescope, make sure to use a solar filter designed for direct solar observation. Regular telescopic filters are insufficient and won’t protect your eyes.

Commuter safety

Although our campus is bustling with activity during the daytime, the eclipse might draw attention away from typical pursuits. In Ottawa, the solar eclipse will last from 2:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., which for many students and employees coincides with the end of classes and the commute back home. Whether you’re driving, biking, or walking, be careful. If you are driving, try to focus on the road and  keep an eye out for pedestrians and cyclists who might be distracted by the eclipse.

Be mindful of pets and animals

Not only do we need to protect our own eyes, but also we need to remember our furry friends. Keep pets indoors or make sure they have access to shaded areas during the eclipse.

Solar Eclipse 101

Types of solar eclipses

Solar eclipses come in different forms, including total, partial, and annular. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon completely covers the Sun, turning day into night for a brief period. Partial eclipses, on the other hand, only obscure a portion of the Sun, while annular eclipses create a ring-like effect.

Path of totality

The “path of totality” is the area on Earth where a total solar eclipse is visible. Those within this path experience the breathtaking moment when the Moon fully blocks the Sun. The experience outside the path varies, with a partial eclipse visible in surrounding regions. Even though Ottawa is not in the path of totality, the eclipse we see here we will be substantial, with approximately 98% of the Sun covered by the Moon.

Eclipse map: visibility of the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. (Source:

Rare and regular occurrences

Solar eclipses aren’t as rare as you might think. On average, a total solar eclipse occurs somewhere on Earth every 18 months. However, the path of totality is relatively narrow, making it a special event for those fortunate enough to witness it.

Impact on wildlife

Animals may exhibit unique behaviours during a solar eclipse; for example, some birds returning to their nests, thinking night has fallen. Observing these natural reactions can add an extra layer of fascination to your eclipse experience.

As we prepare to witness the solar eclipse on April 8, let’s remember the importance of safety and responsible viewing practices. Whether you’re an astronomy enthusiast or simply curious about the cosmos, protect your eyes and enjoy the show. Get ready uOttawa! May your eclipse-viewing experience be both safe and unique!

If you have questions regarding safety on campus, please email the Office of the Chief Risk Officer.


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