Northern Ontario Astronomers Take to the World Stage!

Photo by Colin Durocher as seen from his own telescope and beamed all over the world!

For several months in Winter – Spring 2021, the North Bay Astronomy Club worked with Graham Jones of the international website to plan a live broadcast of the June 10th Annular Eclipse of the Sun from Northern Ontario. This broadcast can now be viewed through the Time and Date website, or directly through Youbtube (found here). Bill Montague and Dave Roscoe of the North Bay club along with Graham spread the idea to Sudbury RASC, where Linda Pulliah inspired the key people to get involved.

Shortly after 3:00 AM on June 10th, teams from the North Bay Astronony Club and Sudbury RASC Centre gathered at sites with a clear view of the Northeast. North Bay found clear horizons on a hill-top near Trout Creek, while Sudbury RASC set up at Dynamic Earth.

Sudbury RASC’s setup at Dynamic Earth. – Photo by Norm Hey

The North Bay team included Club President Bill Montague, Dave Roscoe, Randy Currie and Bob Chapman. Bill was interviewed by Reuters International and by Graham Jones. Both North Bay and Sudbury Teams provided live feeds of the Eclipse from their telescopes to international webcasts through NASA and Time and Date. The New York Times post-eclipse article cited the work of both the North Bay and Sudbury teams.

Luc Boulard streaming to NASA. – Photo by Norm Hey

The Sudbury Team included Linda Pulliah, Olathe MacIntyre, Norm Hey, Colin Durocher, Luc Boulard and Alan Ward, who set up two of his refractors. They started off focused on setting up, adjusting, and polar aligning their telescopes. Then there were computers, cameras, and internet connections to check out.

With all the equipment running as smoothly as possible, in the remaining darkness, they offered views of Jupiter and Saturn to visitors, and engaged in outreach activities. There was even a man who showed up with full welders mask to view the eclipse directly.

Most enthusiastically reaching out to visitors before and during the Eclipse was Linda Pulliah. She advised on viewing safety and handed out Eclipse glasses. Olathe set up a Hydrogen Alpha Scope to bring out detail in the otherwise bland surface of the un-eclipsed part of the Sun. Norm set up his filtered 5-Inch Refractor for solar viewing (the second setup for the night for him! – He had earlier night been imaging the Asteroid Vesta from his driveway!)

Luc mounted a computer-interfaced Canon camera on Linda’s 4-Inch refractor and prepared to track the Sun with his Skywatcher motorized mount. He covered the Eclipse for NASA, received comments in many languages mentioning him by name on NASA’s website. Colin had a similar setup with his computer-interfaced Canon camera mounted on his 9.25-Inch Celestron SCT. He made the upload link from his computer to the world-wide-web with his cell phone!

Another view of Luc streaming to NASA – Photo by Norm Hey

Graham and Anne launched the Eclipse Program on at 5:00 AM, and images of the brightnening twilight sky in the Northeast from Trout Creek appeared on screen at 5:15. The view from Dynamic Earth originating from Colin’s unfiltered SCT appeared a few minutes later. As sunrise approached, Colin’s uploaded video grew more and more colourful! Cloud near the horizon actually made Colin’s images more picturesque.

Live view from Colin’s unfiltered SCT

At 5:39 watchers of saw the horns of the crescent-shaped eclipsed Sun poke above a distant cloud deck, a thrilling view! A minute later, the North Bay crew was showing the World the complete solar crescent in monochrome, the sun having risen out of the cloud.

At 5:41, Colin’s unfiltered view dramatically showed the solar crescent breaking free of the golden cloud layers. His video became the most compelling component of the Time and Eclipse Program. Colin’s images and video feed were also picked up and re-broadcast by NASA, and featured around the world. Rumor has it it was even featured on Jimmy Kimmel! Eclipse Hype was real!! Both Sudbury and North Bay views were unquestionably becoming viral!

As the Sun rose into the clear sky, all telescope operators were imaging through solar filters, and the uploaded images revealed rapidly-changing shape, width, and orientation of the partially-eclipsed Sun.

Around 7:20, with the Eclipse substantially over, the the broadcasts highly successful, Bill, Randy and Dave relaxed in lawn chairs, and chatted with Graham in an informal, but highly enthusiastic interview online from their remote hill top.

Bill, Randy & Dave interviewed by Time and Date after a highly successful event!

This is the first time Sudbury and North Bay Amateur Astronomers put together their knowledge of telescopes, imaging, and communications technologies to broadcast an astronomical event to the World, and it was an astounding success!

Sources: Both the North Bay Astronomy Club and Sudbury RASC Centre, and You all came together to make it happen smoothly and without a hitch. Hats off to all of you! We would also like to thank the media in giving us our 15 minutes of fame. Below are articles where both of us are mentioned.

The New York Times: Solar Eclipse – Ring of Fire

North Bay Nugget

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