It was the event of the season at the Qualicum Beach waterfront.
Boosted by a public viewing “party” hosted by Vancouver Island University’s ElderCollege, hundreds of residents and visitors flocked to the Qualicum Beach waterfront to view the near-total solar eclipse that occurredMonday morning, Aug. 21.
Parking was at a premium on both sides of Highway 19A as the public chose the location to observe the 90 per cent eclipse of the sun that took place at 10:20 a.m.
The largest congregation gathered at the north end of the waterfront boardwalk, where people lined up for views of the eclipse through one of two filtered telescopes set up by ElderCollege instructor David Prud’homme and a third provided by amateur astronomer Phil Betts. Volunteer Callie Larson assisted Prud’homme with his second telescope to keep the lines moving and answer any questions the eclipse-viewers had.
ElderCollege staff set up an information table and shared special eclipse glasses for visitors to use to look directly at the sun.
“There were at least 300 people here,” said event organizer Anne-Marie Lefleur. “That’s when I stopped counting.”
In addition to those who visited the Elder College viewing event, hundreds more eclipse-watchers lined the length of the boardwalk or strolled onto the beach with homemade viewers.
Some had “pinhole” eclipse viewers made from cereal or cracker boxes, others tried larger cardboard boxes in a variety of shapes, and still others simply poked a hole in a small piece of cardboard and held it above a white sheet of paper to project a shadow image of the eclipse.
While many beach-goers went about their morning as though there were nothing special about the day, some who did not have their own viewers strolled the boardwalk and looked to see what others were doing to see the eclipse.
Caroline Little drew a number of onlookers with her system of a small pair of binoculars, reversed to project the sun’s light through the small lenses, aimed at a simple white card.
The resulting image, which featured twin eclipses with the shadow of the binoculars and her hand, was described by one person as resembling the alien E.T. from the hit movie of the same name.
The next solar eclipse that will be visible from B.C. will not take place until 2024.