For people like this Hamilton woman, Monday’s total solar eclipse was ‘very special.’ Here’s why

As she sat in Hamilton’s Bayfront Park on Monday afternoon, Semna Matthew was in awe as she watched the total solar eclipse taking shape.

Afterwards, the 29-year-old from Brantford, Ont., had tears in her eyes as she described the “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

“It’s very special … my father passed away recently so I hope he might be seeing this from somewhere else,” Matthew said.

“He was really fond of these kinds of things. He was the one that used to take me to these things.”

Hundreds gathered at Bayfront Park in Hamilton to watch the total solar eclipse on Monday. Around 3:18 ET p.m., the moon fully blocked the sun and a total solar eclipse was visible. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

She was among the thousands who gathered in the Hamilton and Niagara region to witness the celestial spectacle as the moon passed between the Earth and sun. 

The temperature plunged and the sky darkened as the eclipse reached totality just after 3 p.m. ET.

A view from above of a darkened football field with dotted lights in the stands.
An aerial view of McMaster University’s football field when the moon fully covered the sun during the total solar eclipse in Hamilton. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

Much of North America experienced a partial solar eclipse, with only some areas getting totality, including Niagara Falls, Ont., Hamilton, Kingston, Ont., Montreal, Fredericton, Summerside, P.E.I., and St. John’s.

The next total solar eclipse in the Hamilton and Niagara region won’t be seen until 2144.

WATCH | Eclipse watchers cheer as they take in the event in Niagara Falls:

VIDEO | Crowd cheers as total eclipse peeks through clouds over Niagara Falls

Despite overcast skies, thousands of people in Niagara Falls, Ont., celebrated as they caught a glimpse of the total eclipse.

Leading up to Monday’s event, Glynnis Fleming, 65, thought she was well prepared for what was about to unfold. She’d signed up to participate in NASA’s Eclipse Soundscapes Project and recorded her observations during the total solar eclipse from her backyard in Beamsville, Ont. 

Even still, she said, she was left in awe. 

“It was so much darker and dramatic than I imagined it would be.” 

A total solar eclipse.
The moon fully blocked the sun and a total solar eclipse was visible in Hamilton. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

She noticed that about 20 minutes before totality, as the sunlight dimmed, robins began singing like they do at dawn and dusk. Then, when the sun was completely covered, everything went quiet.

“I am blown away,” she said.

Fleming will submit her observations to NASA, which is gathering data across the continent to help it better understand animal and insect behaviour during eclipses. 

man stands outside with camera
Hobbyist astrophotographer Paul Husain went to Niagara Falls on Monday with his family to capture the total solar eclipse. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

Hobbyist astrophotographer Paul Husain, from Toronto, had been planning for the last five years to watch the solar eclipse from Niagara Falls, Ont. — seeing one in totality was a bucket list item, he said.

When he got there Monday with his family, he aimed his camera at the clouds and hoped for a clearing in the sky. As totality approached, he got his wish.

“It was super cool,” Husain said. 

WATCH | Highlights from Monday’s spectacular eclipse:

VIDEO | Missed the eclipse? See the best moments from across Canada

A total solar eclipse darkened the skies and wowed onlookers in parts of the country — but if you didn’t get a chance to see it yourself, you can relive the best moments from the celestial phenomenon.

At Bayfront Park, Carter Mulrooney, 22, who lives in an encampment, said he only learned of the eclipse when he woke up to hundreds of people standing near his tent on Monday. 

He didn’t have a pair of safety glasses and said he stared at the eclipse without any protection. 

“It was like watching the northern lights in shank-y old Hamilton,” he said. 

CBC Hamilton contacted the city Monday about whether it had tried to provide unhoused people with safety glasses ahead of the eclipse, but didn’t immediately receive a response.

A person in a duck costume with eclipse glasses on.
Performance artist Lewis Mallard, a six-foot duck, waddles around the outside of Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton on Monday just before the total solar eclipse. (Eva Salinas/CBC)

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