Douglas College eclipse viewing attended by hundreds

Photos by Lauren Kelly
Photos by Lauren Kelly

The physics and astronomy department shared the joy of their field through the interactive event

By Lauren Kelly, Contributor


The Douglas College physics and astronomy department held an eclipse-viewing event at the New Westminster campus fourth-floor patio on August 21.

Attended by students, faculty, parents, and children, the event brought the community together in a way only a major event like an eclipse can. It was only advertised within the college, but the event was open to the public, allowing people who may not have been able to find glasses a chance to witness the eclipse and the peak at 87 per cent coverage. By the end of the event, every pair of eclipse glasses had been taken and used.

The event was organized by Jennifer Kirkey, chair of the physics and astronomy department, who ordered hundreds of eclipse glasses well ahead of the eclipse, and facilitated by lab instructors Farhang Fana and Megan Boothby, as well as Will Gunton, an astronomy and physics professor.

The department provided many ways for the community to interact with the eclipse, including a telescope, binoculars with the special eclipse film on them, and a pinhole box that showed the eclipse on the ground. The Other Press interviewed Gunton, who helped attendees use the telescope and other items, and provided information about the eclipse.

“It was amazing, and beyond anything we had expected,” Gunton said. “It was great to see so many members of the Douglas community in one place, enjoying something that really is once or twice in a lifetime.”

Gunton said he appreciated the opportunity to bond with the public over his passions.

“My favourite part of the event was seeing so many people excited about science, asking questions, and enjoying an amazing celestial event,” he said.

Gunton said he also appreciated the grand scope of the eclipse.

“In particular with this eclipse, with so many people along the path of the eclipse, it was also really neat to think about the tens of millions of people that were all looking at the sun and moon at the same time,” he said.

The next eclipse viewable from Vancouver will be in 2024, but there will only be 20 per cent coverage. If you’re interested in other similar events, the physics and astronomy department organizes them when weather permits, so keep an eye on the events calendar. Additionally, if the eclipse piqued your interest, you can attend the SFU Starry Nights or Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, events Kirkey assists with as well.