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One Tech Tip: How to use apps to track and photograph the total solar eclipse – Toronto Star

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Monday’s total solar eclipse might become one of the most filmed and photographed events of the year.

As the moon passes in front of the sun, plunging a swath of North America into a few minutes of darkness, throngs will take pictures or videos of the moment. But powerful solar rays and drastic changes in lighting pose unique challenges in catching that perfect image.

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Total solar eclipse: Continent watches in wonder – Yahoo News Canada

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Across Mexico, the US and Canada, inside a ribbon of land stretching 155 miles wide but more than 4,000 miles long, tens of millions of people craned their necks, tilted their heads to the sky and watched in wonder as the day turned to night.

What many saw on Monday was a phenomenon like no other: the Moon moving between the Earth and the Sun, extinguishing its light in a total solar eclipse.

The path of totality spanned the continent, beginning over the warm sands of a Mexican beach town and darkening the skies above the crashing waters of Niagara Falls before ending its journey on the shores of Canada’s Newfoundland.

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It left a sense of awe in its wake, a reminder of our planet’s place in the universe.

The eclipse was first seen around Mazatlán, Mexico, on the country’s western shores at 11:07 local time (18:07 GMT).

At first, the Moon’s outer edge seemed to just be touching the Sun. Then it devoured more and more until cheers erupted as all finally went dark – save for the silvery glow of the “corona” effect of the Sun around the Moon’s outline.

Ady with her father Ryan

Ady with her father Ryan, watching the big moment [BBC]

A thousand miles away in Dallas, Texas, 11-year-old Ady Walton-King was waiting, weeks of pent-up excitement ready to burst.

She had learned all about the eclipse in her fifth-grade class at Dallas Academy and on Monday morning she laced up her shoes and tucked four pairs of eclipse glasses into her pink purse – one for herself, one for each parent and one for her little sister, Abigail.

Just before it started, Ady sat down beside her dad, Ryan, on a school field in central Dallas and lifted her gaze upward.

And then it happened.

It all felt slow, she said, as she described the Texas afternoon turning dark. “It looked like the Moon was biting the Sun, but without the teeth marks.”

Clouds slid in and out, occasionally blocking the eclipse from view until the Sun had vanished, nothing left but little flares of light around the Moon.

“I didn’t think it would be like that,” Ady said. “It was really dark out. I thought it would be like evening dark, but it was pretty close to pitch black.”

The temperature dropped suddenly and, just as she had been taught, animals fell silent.

“As it started to get lighter the crickets were there, and the birds started singing. It was really crazy,” she said. “I’m sad it’s over.”

From there, the eclipse moved on, carving its path north-east through the United States.

For some, the solar phenomenon was marked by a personal milestone, with hundreds of Americans joining one of several mass wedding events dotted across the path of totality.

A couple who took part in a mass wedding in ArkansasA couple who took part in a mass wedding in Arkansas

A couple who took part in a mass wedding in Arkansas [Getty Images]

In Russellville, Arkansas, 300 couples from across the country signed up, saying “I do” just before the sky went black. As the sky brightened, the group cut wedding cakes and danced – all part of the aptly named Total Eclipse of the Heart festival.

Following the Moon one state over, in Ellsinore, Missouri, was amateur astronomer Darcy Howard, who had driven from her home in central Arkansas to be sure bad weather didn’t block her view.

She had seen many eclipses before today, two totals, one annular and two partials. “Each one has its own fingerprint,” she said.

Totality today, at around 13:56 local time (18:56 GMT) brought an “eerie twilight”, Ms Howard said, with dusky colours dotted all along the horizon. The corona was nearly as bright as a full moon. “The sense of other-worldliness was all around,” she said.

The 70-year-old has loved the cosmos since her childhood, since her father showed her the Big Dipper, the North Star and the Milky Way, and bought her her first telescope.

“I was hooked,” she said. “I can look through a telescope and see Jupiter… I can see Saturn. And when I see that in space, I know all is right with the world.”

Children watch on the beach in Mazatlan, Mexcio the first place to experience totalityChildren watch on the beach in Mazatlan, Mexcio the first place to experience totality

Where it all began: children watch on the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico, the first place to experience totality [Getty Images]

By 15:13 local time (20:13 GMT), the total eclipse had plunged the midwestern state of Ohio into darkness.

In Cleveland, where eclipse-watchers were graced by clear skies, the Sun’s corona was clearly visible, a brilliant halo framing the Moon.

The stars came out in the middle of the day, a sight met with cheers and fireworks, a mid-April New Years Eve.

Many big American cities were not lucky enough to be on the path of totality – but the spectacles were still awe-inspiring. In New York, hundreds of people crowded on to the viewing platform of the Edge skyscraper in Manhattan to see what they could see.

They did not leave disappointed as the sun shrank to a crescent-like sliver of light that cast an unearthly pale gloom over the city.

Hundreds watch the sky on the viewing platform of the Edge in New YorkHundreds watch the sky on the viewing platform of the Edge in New York

Hundreds watch the sky on the viewing platform of the Edge in New York [Getty Images]

Tourists had crowded along both sides of the border at Niagara Falls, where the eclipse path crossed from the US into Canada.

Here, the weather offered a formidable challenge, with thick grey clouds mostly obscuring the sky from view.

But just in time for totality – to the audible delight of the crowd – the clouds parted to reveal the black-hole Sun.

Nearby, on a Niagara City Cruise, 309 people celebrated by record-breaking – dressing up as the Sun to break the Guinness World Record for “Largest gathering of people dressed as the Sun”.

The relentless motion of the heavenly bodies meant that the phenomenon did not last long, and it was Montreal that next got its chance to be plunged into temporary night.

In Montreal, 20,000 people crowded onto a field on McGill University’s campus for an event held by the school’s Trottier Space Institute.

“We had been expecting 8,000,” programme administrator Caroina Cruz-Vinaccia said after. The weather was perfect, clear and bright skies. At the moment of totality, the crowd erupted at once, she said.

“I still can’t quite find the words for how cool this was,” she said. “We’re still coming down.”

Crowds were smaller on Newfoundland’s Fogo Island, on Canada’s east coast – one of the last places the totality could be viewed.

Bethany Downery, a Newfoundland native who works for the European Space Agency, tuned into the spectacular view from the Fogo Island Inn, nestled right against the Atlantic Ocean.

The skies were overcast, she said, but the clouds moved miraculously in time to catch near totality.

And with that, a day of collective wonder and celebration reached its conclusion. But it had left a permanent mark on many of those who had witnessed it.

In Dallas, a few thousand miles back along the path, Ady Walton-King was making plans.

Texas will not be in the path of totality again for another 300 years, so she’ll have to travel for the next one in North America, in 2044.

And by that time, she’ll be even more of an expert on total eclipses. “I want to be a scientist by the time that happens,” she said.

– With additional reporting from Brandon Livesay, Nada Tawfik, Nadine Yousif and Helena Humphrey

BBC graphic of woman wearing glasses looking at SunBBC graphic of woman wearing glasses looking at Sun

[BBC]

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Sour gas additive found in Alberta's groundwater – CTV News Calgary

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A compound used to treat sour gas that’s been linked to fertility issues in cattle has been found throughout groundwater in the Prairies, according to a new study.

Scientists at the University of Guelph and University of Saskatchewan have identified “large contaminant plumes” of sulfolane, particularly in Alberta.

Dr. Erica Pensini, associate professor at Guelph’s school of engineering, says researchers are tracking how it is spreading in groundwater, work that could help identify risks to supplies of potable water.

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She says the study suggests that naturally-occurring sulfates (salts) react with sulfolane in groundwater and its ability to “mix more thoroughly with water.”

“Sulfolane plumes travel faster with fewer sulfates, so we’re trying to clarify migration in the context of what can we do to tackle this contamination,” said Pensini in a news release.

“We’re also partnering up with hydrogeologists and eco-toxicologists to explore other aspects that we’re not directly exploring in our lab,” said Pensini.

What is sulfolane?

Sulfolane, introduced to the market in 1944 by Shell Oil, is “widely used” to remove hydrogen sulfide – a process better known as ‘sweetening’ – from sour gas at thousands of sites across Alberta.

Sulfolane is virtually invisible and doesn’t have a particularly strong smell, so it is nearly undetectable in bodies of water.

“In most cases, you would not notice its presence,” Pensini told CTV News in a statement.

According to a 2008 report by WorleyParsons Komex for Shell Energy Canada, sulfolane was first detected in groundwater in the 1980s and, in 1994, a monitoring program was put in place.

A regional sulfolane monitoring program, which began in 1998, detected sulfolane in off-site groundwater near Shell’s Waterton facility.

By 2007, Shell began actively working to remove sulfolane, building on a pilot project conducted in 2003 and 2004.

Nevertheless, Pensini says the toxicity of the chemical was not fully understood, so it was improperly disposed of.

“It was therefore released in aquifers by sour gas and sour oil processing plants. There were 5,250 plants in 2007 (in Alberta), based on official sources,” she said.

“Each of these plants could have released different amounts.”

According to the Canadian government, “the toxicological database for sulfolane is limited.”

“Overall, oral exposure to sulfolane in experimental animals was associated with immunological, renal and reproductive and developmental effects,” the government’s website reads.

Health Canada says the compound is not likely to accumulate in the human body, but that more than 0.3 milligrams of sulfolane per litre of drinking water is unacceptable.

“Health Canada establishes screening values for contaminants at the request of federal departments, provinces and territories (jurisdictions). These requests are usually made when there is a concern for human health because the presence of a contaminant is suspected or detected in local source water and that contaminant does not have an established limit in drinking water.”

The agency says there are no regulatory limits for sulfolane in other countries, but sulfolane groundwater contamination did prompt authorities in North Pole, Alaska, to include it in the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

Research into whether or not sulfolane poses a risk to human health is still ongoing, Pensini says, but some companies have already raised concerns.

“For example, Sigma Aldritch, a leading chemical supplier, lists this hazard in their (safety data sheets),” she told CTV News in a statement.

“There is sufficient evidence for its impact on fertility for these to be officially reported.”

Crews working on a decommissioned sour gas well in south Calgary in 2017. (Supplied/AER)

Shell working with University of Guelph

Shell Canada says it is aware of Pensini’s research and has been working with the University of Guelph since 2022.

“Shell believes a collaborative and cooperative approach with academia is key to improve environmental practices,” a Shell spokesperson wrote in an email to CTV News.

Shell, which has operated sour gas wells in the Foothills – Jumping Pound, Caroline and Waterton – for 70 years, says it has also worked with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) as well as stakeholders and landholders for the past 10 years.

In 2019, Shell sold those sour gas wells to Pieridae, but it is still responsible for “managing and remediating any impacts at the Waterton and Jumping Pound gas plants.”

Shell Canada did not admit that sulfolane poses a risk to human health, but said its work with the University of Guelph “is an important step in advancing the science.”

Rules in place for companies

According to the AER, the body that monitors companies in Alberta’s energy sector, there are 27,562 active sour gas wells in the province, a figure that does not include inactive, abandoned and reclaimed wells.

Many more are scheduled to be drilled, the AER said in a statement to CTV News.

In addition to other regulations, the agency says all facilities that process sour gas require approval under Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA).

Contamination still present in Alberta groundwater

Pensini acknowledged that “practices have changed” when it comes to the handling of sulfolane.

“New sulfolane contamination is most probably less significant,” she said. “Filters contaminated with sulfolane are no longer being washed directly into aquifers.”

However, she adds that several decades’ worth of contamination is still present in Alberta’s groundwater.

Pensini says Canadian Light Source, a national research facility at the University of Saskatchewan, has been “instrumental” in understanding the spread of sulfolane.

“We can probe aspects that we couldn’t probe anywhere else, so it is really, really important to us for this research,” she said.

The team’s findings have been published in the journal Physics of Fluids.

(Supplied/AER)

The Alberta government says it’s aware of the study.

“Provincial groundwater monitoring has not detected any notable increases in sulfolane levels in groundwater,” said Ryan Fournier, press secretary for Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz, in a statement to CTV News.

Fournier says the government will be reviewing the study’s findings.

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Gathering to witness the Sun and Moon’s Spectacular Alignment

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People from all around the world gathered to witness a Total Solar Eclipse this past Monday. Here in Thompson, Manitoba, however, locals were treated to a Partial Solar Eclipse that began at 1:04 pm, peaked at 2:04 pm with a 0.488 Magnitude, and concluded at 3:04 pm, with a full duration of 1 hour and 59 minutes.

While some schools kept their students indoors during the event, others took advantage of it as an educational opportunity. “We used this as an excuse to learn and have some fun,” said Stephanie, a mother from one of the schools.

The school divisions recorded a 22% absence rate from classes during the eclipse. It was the first total solar eclipse since 1979 to cast its shadow on Canadian soil, and people were excited to witness the spectacle.

Hilding Neilson, an astrophysicist from Memorial University, was in Gander, N.L., for the event with some of his students. He was emotional and struggling for words as the sun reappeared and soaked the area in its light. “It was just remarkable, just an amazing experience,” he said. “Just before totality, feeling it get darker, we felt the temperature drop… it was just amazing to see the darkness.”

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The moon is about 400 times smaller than the sun, but it’s also about 400 times closer to the Earth. The bright, clear sunny sky made for the most perfect weather conditions for those with dimmed glasses to witness the planets’ alignment.

Total solar eclipses have been central to some major scientific breakthroughs. Helium was detected for the first time during an 1868 eclipse, and observations made in 1919 helped establish broad support for Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.

In 1979, Manitoba was in the path of totality, and school-aged Scott Young was mesmerized. That’s the moment the Manitoba Museum Planetarium astronomer was hooked. “The entire horizon was covered in the colors of twilight, and my head just exploded,” he said. However, the partial eclipse on Monday was shrouded in clouds behind him.

While the next total solar eclipse in Canada is expected to pass through western provinces in 20 years, the phenomenon only happens in any given location roughly once every 360 years, according to some estimates. Some areas have waited even longer, like Kingston, Ont., which last fell under a total solar eclipse almost 700 years ago.

As people continue to marvel at the beauty of a solar eclipse, it remains a reminder of the wonders of our universe and the importance of exploring and discovering all that it has to offer.

~Matthias J. Johnson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Thompson Citizen.  The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

 

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