Sky watchers across North America are over the moon as the countdown to a total solar eclipse draws near.
Celestial celebrations have been planned for months to observe the inspiring sight including Saskatoon.
Stan Shadick, an astronomer with the University of Saskatchewan, said it’s something everyone should witness at least once in their life time.
The striking phenomenon is set to run from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Monday and promises to leave astro nerds in awe.
“Observing a total solar eclipse is the most spectacular event in nature that can be seen,” Shadick said.
“Northern lights are very spectacular but observing a total solar eclipse is really number one.”
It occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, highlighting the rarely seen outer atmosphere of the sun as a halo circles the moon.
In the United States, it will be a total solar eclipse, the first to streak across the entire continental U.S. in 99 years.
In Canada, it will be a partial eclipse and here in Saskatoon, approximately 76 per cent of the sun will be covered. The last time we were witness to one in Saskatchewan was 38 years ago.
“I can remember it quite well it was February 26th of 1979, it was actually a total solar eclipse at Estevan,” Shadick added.
Amid all the hype, experts stress that proper eye protection must be worn to observe the eclipse otherwise it can be dangerous to your health.
“One of the things people have a tendency of thinking is ‘I look at the sun all the time why is it a problem?'” said Tim Yaworski, a technical sales representative for London Drugs.
“The problem is when we look at the sun all the time we’re looking at it for a fraction of a second, we’re not staring at it for hours or minutes at a time.”
As the sun becomes covered and the sky becomes darker says Yaworski, our pupils will start to dilate.
“What’s happening is we’re letting in a lot more light and most importantly we’re letting in UV radiation.”
What may feel pain-free at the time could cause serious damage to your eyes, even blindness, and sunglasses won’t cut it in terms of protection.
One option to help you watch the sun go dark safely are certified ISO eclipse glasses.
“Definitely uses the glasses but use them responsibly. The first thing you want to make sure is – you only put the glasses on before you look up at the sun and when you’re done looking make sure you look down before you remove the glasses,” Yaworski added.
WATCH BELOW: “You look like a dork but it works.” Tim Yaworski explains different ways to view the solar eclipse.
They aren’t recommended for children under six-years-old and parents should supervise children while they’re wearing them.
The glasses should not have any scratches either and if they don’t seem legitimate, don’t use them.
London Drugs has sold 20,000 pairs and at this point, they’re pretty hard to find but not to worry, said Yaworski – there are ways around that.
He showed us a special solar filter you can use on your camera. Without one not only will you damage your camera but your eyes as well.
“I can always sell you a new camera, I can’t sell you new eyes.”
Other alternative methods include pinhole projection for either groups of people or small children.
According to experts the best time to observe this eclipse will be at 11:43 a.m. CT
The University’s Observatory at at 108 Wiggins Rd., Wanuskewin Hertiage Park and London Drugs on 8th Street will all be hosting events starting around 10:30 a.m.
If you miss this one you’ll have to wait until the year 2044 for the next solar eclipse in Saskatchewan.