On April 8, the moon will travel between the Earth and the Sun, creating a partial solar eclipse for those of us in Foothills County.

"If anybody has ever had a chance to see this before, they will tell you that it's one of the coolest things," explains Dr. Phil Langill, the Director of the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory and Associate Professor at the University of Calgary. "Because, in the sky, in the middle of the day, the sun begins to disappear. And the moon is whipping around the Earth in its orbit, and every once in a while, the moon aligns with the sun in the sky."

Dr. Langill says that for us here, they are aligning very closely, but not perfectly, creating only a partial eclipse.

"But the alignment here is off a little bit, so there's going to be a big bite taken out of the sun in the middle of the day. It's still going to be cool; it's going to be fun to watch," says Dr. Langill.

He adds that almost half of the sun will disappear behind the moon from our perspective.

While we may not see eclipses here that often, Dr. Langill does say they are somewhat common.

"When you think about the whole big Earth and the moon's shadow, every time the moon comes around between the sun and us, that shadow is going to hit somewhere on the Earth. So, pretty much every six months. It's kind of like a little pattern, every six months somewhere on the Earth, the moon's shadow hits and someone on the Earth is going to get the chance to see a solar eclipse," Dr. Langill says.

He says that for us, it is less often than that.

"The shadow is big and goes fast, so for us, I'm going to say every decade or something like that, we will probably get an opportunity to see a little chunk of the sun being bitten off by the moon, but that fraction, that's the thing that changes a lot. Sometimes it's like a little bite, sometimes it's half a bite, and very, very rarely does the sun completely disappear from the sky in a total eclipse," Dr. Langill explains.

Dr. Langill says that even though a portion of the sun is getting blocked by the sun, that doesn't necessarily mean that the day will get darker.

"The sun's surface is very bright," Dr. Langill says with a chuckle. "Just because half of it's being removed by the moon, there's still a half of the sun there that's super bright. If you look around you on the horizon, as this shadow is going by and the sun is getting a bite out of it, it doesn't get a whole lot darker around you. 'Cause the sun is still illuminating the ground very effectively."

But, Dr. Langill adds that you may notice the temperature drop during an eclipse.

"'One of the things that the moon does well is it blocks all the heat from the sun, and you will notice a chill in the air before you notice a change in the brightness around you."

He adds that when the moon and the sun become aligned, whether the moon is between the Earth and the sun or on the far side of the planet, the tides on Earth are slightly bigger than they would be if they weren't.

In order to look safely at the partial eclipse, Dr. Langill says there are a few options, including approved eclipse-viewing sunglasses that block roughly 99 percent of the sun's brightness.

One of the other options that he suggests is something you can make at home.

"You can make a little pinhole camera. So, take a piece of cardboard. Put a little, tiny, little hole in it with a pin or the tip of a pen or something like that and let the light shine through onto a little projection screen and that will be like a little camera that will show you all the action that's going on in the sky. That's a fun way to do it. Also, because you think, 'How is my pinhole making a camera,' So, you learn a little bit about optics when you build that little device," Dr. Langill says.

Or, he says, you could also look through welder's glass and your eyes will be protected.

According to Eclipse 2024, the eclipse will begin about 11:47 a.m. on April 8, and will last until about 1:40 p.m.

While the Rothney Observatory won't be hosting a viewing party, the University of Calgary will be.

It will be in Green Space Number 7, which is in the Northeast corner of campus, near Crowchild Trail, not far from the C-Train station.

They will have telescopes for people to watch the eclipse happen.

"What's really going on, is this is Mother Nature showing you that the Universe is in motion. Like, it's really amazing to think about this."