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Astrophysicist warns people not to look at solar eclipse without protection

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Astrophysicist Robert Thacker knows several colleagues who have travelled around the world to see solar eclipses, but it’s a phenomenon he’s never personally witnessed. Next week he’s crossing it off his to-do list as he plans to make the drive to New Brunswick to see the moon cover the sun.

“I’ve got to go see it just so I can have that experience,” Thacker told CTV’s Todd Battis in an interview. “If you’re within a close drive of (the path of) totality, I’d say do it because it’s a different experience.”

The solar eclipse will happen on April 8, shrouding parts of New Brunswick in darkness for a few moments. Central New Brunswick will experience the full effect of the eclipse as it will be in the path of totality, but other regions in the Maritimes could catch a glimpse of the celestial event.

“If it’s a clear day and if you’re on the path of totality, which is the point where the whole of the sun will be covered by the moon completely, there’ll be three minutes of complete darkness,” Thacker said. “The actual time the moon touches over the sun is about a few hours. In Nova Scotia, Meat Cove will get a minute and a half (of darkness), as will a tip of P.E.I.”

Thacker is advising people to wear appropriate eyewear to protect themselves during the eclipse and to not use unfiltered telescopes to look at the sun.

“Be really careful with your eyesight,” he said.

Thacker said while there may not be much to learn from this eclipse from a scientific perspective, it’s still an incredible event, especially given its historic rarity.

“Professional astronomers will talk about what a profound experience this is for them,” he said. “A lot of them wax lyrically about it.

“The next total eclipse that will cover Halifax is in 2079.”

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