Diary of A Solar Eclipse Chaser


-A Miramichi account of the historic moment

I didn’t catch the eclipse fever like everyone else in Canada at first. Not even the voices of eclipse enthusiasts on local media could draw me in. As a Nigerian on a visit, I was more concerned about the update on Naira-Dollar exchange rates and immigration-related news than the looming solar eclipse.


Some weeks ago, I received a package containing some solar eclipse protective glasses. I knew who placed the order. The preparation and anticipation for the eclipse was a burden I trusted my sister to bear alone. As at last week, I still wasn’t really moved but my sister’s excitement was quite infectious- a feeling I’d say was fanned by her friend who lived some blocks away.

Snow-filled grounds beneath the totality path in Miramichi

My mode of quarantine against this bug called eclipse was work – and more work. Still, I was a passive eavesdropper. Once, maybe even twice, I overheard something about the path of totality and I figured it would take some road travel to see the full solar eclipse. As you’d probably know by now, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, obstructing our view of the sun as it passes. It’s called a total solar eclipse when the moon completely blocks the light from the sun.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the total solar eclipse can only be viewed from the same place once every 366 years. A few locations have recorded it twice in history. The next total solar eclipse will occur on August 12, 2026, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This eclipse will be viewable from the Arctic, eastern Greenland, northern Spain and Iceland.


That explains the buzz around this one on Monday April 8th. The whole experience gave a catch-me-when-you-can feeling or at least that’s how it felt. By the way, you won’t notice a total solar eclipse until the Sun is more than 90 percent covered by the Moon. At 99 percent coverage, daytime lighting resembles twilight. That’s why yorubas call it “Osan Doru.” It was predicted that a crisp view of totality would be experienced throughout central and northern New Brunswick, as well as the western half of Prince Edward Island. Hence, we were so stoked about it.

A pair of eclipse sunglasses

The closest totality path was in Miramichi, a one-and-half hour drive from my neighborhood. On my part, I’d say it was zero level preparation. I was still editing stories, responding to emails and messages while spending my midnights poring over Diddy news and Cher-AE romance gossip on the internet. My life was not necessarily boring without the thought of the impending eclipse. But I wouldn’t say the same for many Canadians who had been mostly indoors due to the cold weather that’s slowly ushering in spring with such annoying lethargy.

When my teenage nephew told me that the schools would close by 1pm, I knew the eclipse was no joke to Canadians. People had travelled from the United States of America as well as neighbouring cities and provinces like Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Islands to see the total solar eclipse. We could easily tell from their car plate numbers.


By 1:15 pm, we hit the road. My nephew, whom we had picked up from school, was camera-ready. For the first twenty minutes into our journey, he was briefing us- in his typical tour guide tone laced with acquired Canadian accent- about the damage the eclipse could do to the camera lens and the human eyes. The excitement he stirred in us erased the fact that my sister was so blue in the morning when she couldn’t find those pre-ordered eclipse glasses. Who wouldn’t be? Fortunately, they were found just a few minutes before we set out.


Yawning intermittently, I was fighting back the urge to sleep as I paid close attention to the road signs moderating our car speed. Road signs warning us of animals that could likely cross our path on the highway and the elderly on foot could be spotted along the fast-moving view of Miramichi-Moncton highway. I couldn’t help but draw a contrast between the road safety measures in Canada and my home country. We drove on for more than an hour, encountering no traffic nor over-friendly or thirsty policemen. I was grateful that I wasn’t driving because the playlist curated by my sister actually made me sleep. Don’t get me wrong; I love Chicago, Styl-Plus and whatever the potpourri playlist projecting from the car stereo but I know I would have hit ‘em up with some 90s hip-hop and a bit of trap. But that’s me.


The sleep was soothing until I had to be roused at a filling station that housed a drive-through chicken store or something. That was our chosen stopover because the airport area in the path of totality where we were headed might not give room for ‘Lagos-style emergency urination.’ But the queue for men was longer than the solar eclipse totality path itself, excuse my exaggeration. I chuckled in Greek as I walked past the white male folks wondering whether their queue wouldn’t become a watch party later.


As we ventured back on the highway, we saw pockets of watch parties. From carpools to porch parties, the energy was 2000 watts- in Michael Jackson’s voice. Eventually, we headed to the airport entrance. On arrival, we were promptly and politely redirected to the actual ‘eclipse arena’ entrance as registered eclipse witnesses.


To park was really a tough call so we had to look for a space close to the entrance in preparation for a quick exit. By the time we arrived, there were special Miramichi eclipse eyeglasses waiting for us at the venue that’s already filled but not congested. If I had my way, I would just remain at the stage area where other journalists mounted their telescopic cameras. I glanced at my nephew and said: “See your seniors over there,” nudging his elbow towards the ‘big boys’ setting up their tripods for the much-anticipated solar eclipse.

We both burst into laughter knowing how much he’d coveted those high-end camera kits. Momentarily, I wished THISDAY online photo editor Kunle Ogunfuyi was present. I imagined how he would characteristically mount several cameras on himself like a combatant. Or even how Guardian’s Femi Kuti (who lives in our hearts now) would have been a good companion to experience this iconic moment with. He would have told me stories of the World Cup he had covered in the past while we waited for this historic three minutes. It felt like the ultimate photographer’s show and we, the writers, were just gatecrashing. Anyway, the Canadian natives performed on the little stage before I could reach there. Behind the stage, there was a small food truck. I actually lost count of the journalists on ground. And that was all.


We walked around trying to locate our family friends that arrived ahead of us. After several calls, we strolled into the parking lot where our fellow eclipse chasers were gathered. The air of camaraderie was relaxing at the same time, suspense-filled. To kill time, many were sipping drinks, ironically playing ‘indoor games outdoors’ while some Gen-Zs walking behind us were mulling the relationship between the eclipse and the end of the world. Such sci-fi thinking, I thought.

A view of some eclipse chasers

It was such a surreal feeling when I sighted families- some with their pets- sitting on foldable chairs and colourful beach mats as they watched the moon inch closer to the sun. We peered at this solar romance from the dark eclipse lenses which only permitted the wearer to see only the sun and the moon. We were told not to use any other optical lens but since I have blurred vision, I had to wear my prescription lenses underneath the eclipse eyewear. (Of course, I felt some eye strain later and sleep was the remedy.)

Total Solar Eclipse
Courtesy: Jaded Media

The countdown at the Eclipse path was …wow…wow…wow. The moon, which is supposedly smaller than the sun, covered it leaving only sunny spherical linings. That was what everyone tried to capture on camera. A little after three minutes, the moon moved away to the left and spontaneous applause erupted to celebrate this wonderful gift of nature.


The magical feeling was short-lived when my sister said, “You are going to write about this, aren’t you?” The truth is that I didn’t plan to write. I just wanted to be human for a while; being alive and living my life. Of course, it has to be documented because I represent a whole nation in one of the least visited provinces by Nigerian celebrities. Burna Boy was in Montreal the same day I arrived at the airport and I heard Johnny Drille is coming too later in the year. Many of the big music stars in Nigeria don’t come to New Brunswick but then the 2024 almighty solar eclipse positioned the province on a global sightline.

Almost immediately, some cars pulled out of the parking lot trying to escape from the inevitable traffic. We walked back to the car the same way we came in- following the footpaths piercing through the pile of snow everywhere in the host community. Miramichi saw a huge influx of human and vehicular traffic.


Meanwhile, the internet was buzzing with memes around the solar eclipse. And some clever netizens found a way to weave the eclipse around political characters. Well, I guess disgruntled citizens are the most creative individuals. I wondered what would have happened if the eclipse had taken place in Lagos, Nigeria. Perhaps, the Nigerian Breweries or Gov Sanwoolu would have hosted a watch party. And it would have been an all-night party with wafting aroma of Aboki suya, barbecue chicken and other street food renting the air. Even Portable would have gone live on Instagram shouting “Wahala, Wahala …” or maybe make a song for eclipse. Some staff of Lagos state would be wearing aso-ebi for eclipse and trust my eastern brothers for making or selling eclipse t-shirts, glasses, Nigerian flags, facecaps and just turning the whole thing into some lavish funfair. Outside of the venue would have been taken over by street urchins who would make huge money from parking cars arriving for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But this is Canada where everything is solemn.


– Written by Yinka Olatunbosun, an arts and culture journalist.

You may also like

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in GreenGazelle