50 days to the Total Solar Eclipse!

On Monday, April 8, Hamilton will experience a total solar eclipse for the first time since January 24, 1925.

If you did not get our previous mailing and you would like to read it, click on this link.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when, at just the right moment, the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth.  This only happens when it is a New Moon, the time when the Moon is directly between the Earth and the Sun.  The path of the total eclipse is usually very narrow; for this eclipse, it is about 185 km wide; people outside this path will only see a partial eclipse.

Why don't we see an eclipse every month?

There are several factors that affect when we see an eclipse, and what type of eclipse we see.  Simply put, the Moon's orbit around the Earth is not perectly aligned with the Earth's orbit around the Sun.

First, The Moon's path around Earth is slightly tilted compared to the Earth's orbit around the Sun (its "inclination").  The path the Moon takes means that sometimes it appears to be higher or lower than the Sun when viewed from Earth.

The Moon's orbit around the Earth is also slightly elliptical; sometimes it is a little closer to us, and sometimes it is farther from us.  The Moon's closest point to the Earth (its "perigee") also changes slightly over time, completing an orbit of the Earth every 8.85 years (its "precession").

The combination of these factors means that the conditions for a solar eclipse usually occur only a couple of times a year.

The type of eclipse will depend on the combination of the factors above.  If the moon appears slightly higher or lower than the Sun as it reaches the New Moon phase, we get a partial eclipse such as the one we had in Southern Ontario this past October.  If the Moon is near the furthest point of its elliptical orbit  (its "apogee"), we get an Annular or "Ring of Fire" eclipse.  If the Moon is perfectly lined up between the Earth and Moon, and is close enough, we get a Total Solar Eclipse!

For more information on eclipses, see the following sites:


Where will the Total Eclipse occur?

The total eclipse will run from Mexico through eastern Canada.  Only a portion of Southern Ontario (in the shaded grey area) will see the total eclipse.  The rest of Ontario will only see a partial eclipse.

The sky will only get dark where the total eclipse occurs.  The rest of Ontario wlil not notice any appreciable difference in the brightness of the Sun. 

If you are in an area where the total eclipse occurs, the duration of darkness will be anywhere from just a few seconds to about 3 minutes and 45 seconds.  Around Hamilton, the amount of time in totality will be between approximately 90 seconds and 2 minutes 30 seconds, depending on your location.

Will you be hosting any events?

Yes! Hamilton RASC will have volunteers set up with telescopes properly equipped to safely view the Sun, and have events to help educate and entertain those who come to our event, including youngsters.

We are in the process of finalizing the location, and should have details in the coming days!


Hamilton RASC has a supply of eclipse glasses for sale ($3 each). If you are interested in purchasing any, please contact us at outreach@hamiltonrasc.ca . Also, see below for a special offer from our Club President to get glasses for free as part of a club membership!

You can also order them from these websites...

My Science Shop

Raintow Symphony

Eclipse Glasses

We do not recommend purchasing eclipse glasses from sellers on Amazon or other online marketplaces. There were reports of people selling (fake) glasses during the last eclipse, potentially causing blindness.

The only time it is safe NOT to have glasses on is during the short period of totality.

A Message (and Offer!) From Our Club President

In the anticipation of the upcoming solar eclipse in the Hamilton area, we are filled with excitement and wonder at the prospect of witnessing and sharing this life-changing celestial event with the community we serve. Recently, some school boards have announced that April 8th, 2024 would be a Professional Development Day and this poses a unique opportunity for our Society to bring programming to the community.

We are all aware of the potential dangers from looking at the Sun without proper eye protection - this danger can not be overstated. With children not being in school this may lead to unattended observations, potentially putting young eyes at risk.

RASC Hamilton is taking proactive steps by securing several hundred pairs of solar glasses, generously sufficient for around 200 families. These solar glasses are an essential accessory, allowing safe and awe-inspiring observations of the eclipse. To make this opportunity accessible, we've devised a simple yet impactful plan:

With the purchase of a 1-year family membership to the Hamilton RASC, you will receive these specially designed solar glasses for free (with a limit of up to five pairs per family). Membership ensures not only access to safe viewing for your family during the eclipse but also extends numerous other benefits such as: being part of a community of like minded enthusiasts, access to loaner equipment free of charge, an annual Observer's Handbook, the opportunity to attend monthly club meetings and listen to engaging speakers as well as joining us on regular observing nights at our Observatory.

Embracing this membership is easy; just follow the link provided:


Once you have signed up for your membership, simply contact us at outreach@hamiltonrasc.ca and we will arrange a dedicated session to guide you on making the most of this celestial spectacle with your family. Our aim is not only to provide the means for safe observation but to enhance your overall eclipse experience.

In recognizing the scarcity of solar glasses and the urgency of the situation, we recommend you not wait. The safety of your children is paramount, and this eclipse offers a unique opportunity for a life changing experience.

Act now to secure your solar glasses, and in doing so, join us in fostering a community that values both safety and the pursuit of celestial knowledge.

As we embark on this journey together, let's ensure that the solar eclipse becomes a cherished memory for all the right reasonsβ€”a moment of awe, wonder and shared learning. Together, we can make this celestial event an experience enjoyed by everyone.

πŸŒ’πŸ”­ #SolarEclipseSafety #RASCHamilton #CelestialWonder

Have a great day.

Andy Blanchard
President, Hamilton RASC


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