Near-total solar eclipse overhead this morning

It’s here: a once-in-a-lifetime event.

It’s the 2017 solar eclipse, a travelling band of eclipse totality that will cross the continental United States this morning between 9:12 and 11:43 a.m.

Outside of the continental United States, Osoyoos is among the very best places to view the eclipse.

This morning, the Moon, the Sun and Earth will align in an almost perfectly straight line and the Moon will cast its shadow on Earth. From Osoyoos, it will look like the Moon has taken a 90% bite out of the Sun.

The event will result in an almost total loss of sunlight — which can cause the temperature to drop 10 or more degrees — while the change in lighting will makes shadows look sharper on the ground.

According to those who have witnessed a total or near-total eclipse, it’s an event not to be missed — even if you don’t have special viewing glasses or cards to look directly at the eclipse.

Ken Tapping, an astronomer at the National Research Council’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Okanagan Falls, recalls an eclipse viewing he shared in England a few years ago.

“When all we could see of the sun was a threadlike silver, gaps between the leaves in trees behaved like countless pinhole cameras, making the trees look sparkly, with their leaves decorated with little crescents,” he says.

“I will never forget that experience. Every eclipse experience is different, so it pays to catch one or two, or more.”

Desert Park is also inviting anyone who has their own viewing glasses — or is prepared to make their own viewing box — to join the party.

“We may not be able to serve a big breakfast to you, but we are planning to have at least a continental offering for those who didn’t purchase tickets,” Fuller said. “And children attending can still participate in the educational component.”

Locally, Osoyoos Desert Park will be hosting a eclipse celebration between 9 a.m. and noon.

The Park’s Science of the Sun event will be especially geared to youngsters — offering a fun, affordable, educational way to fully appreciate the solar eclipse.

Desert Park had set a limit of 250 attendees, the 250-limit  based on the number of viewing glasses available to Desert Park for the event.

The glasses are mandatory for a safe look directly at the sun and the eclipse.

When it became apparent more people wanted to attend, Desert Park determined to find other means of accommodating viewers.

“We’ve had a large number of people disappointed they couldn’t get tickets for the event, so we did a little research, put some minds to work and came up with some additional viewing options,” said Desert Park’s president Bruce Fuller.

“Our team was busy over the weekend putting together as many of these viewing tools as we can.”

Desert Park is also inviting anyone who has their own viewing glasses — or is prepared to make their own viewing box — to join the party.

“We may not be able to serve a big breakfast to you, but we are planning to have at least a continental offering for those who didn’t purchase tickets,” Fuller said. “And children attending can still participate in the educational component.”

Admission to the event for those who haven’t already secured tickets will be by donation.

For those unable to attend and without proper viewing tools, please resist the temptation to look directly at the eclipse.

As one news outlet in the United States put it, “your face won’t melt off Raiders of the Lost Ark-style, but your eyes could be severely damaged. And, yes, you could go blind.”

Better to watch the event live on television or on the Internet.

NASA TV will have a livestream across the path of totality, from Oregon to South Carolina. You’ll see views from 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft and more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and hear from the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

You can also watch the eclipse on The Weather Channel, Dacebook Live, Twitter, YouTube and Periscope.

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