December 25, 2000

On December 25, North Americans, who are lucky enough to have clear skies, will be treated to an extremely rare astronomical event - a partial eclipse of the sun.

An eclipse of the Sun can only take place at New Moon, and only if the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth. Under these conditions, the Moon's shadow sweeps across a portion of Earth's surface and an eclipse of the Sun is seen from that region.

The Christmas eclipse will be visible from United States (except Alaska and Hawaii), Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and the North Atlantic. During the maximum phase (17:23 GMT) about 72% of the Sun's diameter will be covered by the Moon. This will be visible from Baffin Island in northern Canada. More populated locations further south in North America will see a smaller fraction of the Sun's face covered by the Moon. Observers in regions where the eclipse magnitude will be greatest might note a subtle change in the cast of sunlight across the landscape. Elsewhere, the day will appear as brightly lit as usual.

What the eclipse will look like and when it begins and ends depends on your geographic location. You can see a graphic preview for a number of cities based on eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC, by choosing one of the links below.

Extreme care must be taken when watching the solar eclipse. You should never look directly at the Sun with the naked eye or through any optical device (e.g. - camera, binoculars or telescope).

Released to YES I Can! Science by the Ontario Association of Optometrists

Optometrists Wish Canadians a Merry Christmas and a Happy Solar Eclipse

Toronto ON - Christmas of 2000 will definitely give us a sight to remember. Between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, a partial solar eclipse will take place over the Canadian sky. This incredible event is an absolute must-see and will add a touch of magic to any child's Christmas, but to make the most of it without permanently damaging their eyes the Ontario Association of Optometrists recommends that Canadians follow a couple of safety tips.

  1. Do not watch the eclipse without adequate eye protection: Staring at an eclipse can permanently damage your eyes. There is so much intense light coming from the Sun that your retina could not compensate and its cells would burn out creating severe visual impairments and possible blindness. Since there are no pain receptors in the retina, you would not be able to feel the injuries and would not be aware of them until hours later, when the effects begin to appear .
  2. Regular sunglasses are not solar filters: Only use solar filters which are designated to provide an effective barrier against the Sun's rays. Your sunglasses are not made for that purpose and will not protect you from injuries.
  3. Cameras, binoculars and telescopes need filters too: Do not look at the eclipse with these objects if they are not equipped with a special solar filter, or you will be subject to the same damages as you would be with the naked eye.
  4. Make sure the solar filters you buy and use are in excellent condition: A tiny hole in the lens or frame of the filters could make them inefficient to protect your eyes. In any event, even with solar filter on, do not stare at the sun for extended periods.

For more information on safe viewing of the eclipse and instructions for making projection devices, follow the YES I Can! Science link below to curriculum-linked classroom activities.

For general information on eclipses and how to view them safely visit:

Linked to expectations of the Grade 6 Space strand of the Pan-Canadian Science Curriculum, the guide includes explanations, demonstrations, diagrams and investigations to assist students in understanding and safely viewing solar eclipses. This guide may be adapted for use with both older and younger students and will meet skill expectations for initiating and planning as well as performing and recording.

Note to teachers

Send us results of student investigations: explanations and diagrams of how an eclipse works, diagrams and sketches of projection devices constructed by students, and/or observations taken by students during the eclipse. We will publish the student work on this web site and send your class a full colour poster, Canadian Skies, Your Guide to the Stars, courtesy of the National Research Council Canada.

E-mail student work as an attachment to science@yesican.yorku.ca.

Please include:

  • Teacher name
  • School name and mailing address
  • First name only and age of student


YES I Can! Science

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