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Total Eclipse of the Sun☀️

Total Eclipse of the Sun☀️

Total Eclipse of the Sun☀️

Editor’s note: this blog post was originally written ahead of the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse whose path of totality bisected the United States. This event was the first total eclipse that could be observed in any part of the 48 states and parts of Canada since 1979!

If you’re like us, then we know you’re already preparing for April 8ᵗʰ, 2024’s total solar eclipse—the last to be seen in North America for the next 20 years or more! Get in the eclipse mood with a great selection of films that touch on our neighbourhood star—and you don’t need any protective eyewear to watch! Scroll to the bottom for some bonus content and tips on viewing this epic phenomenon.

Shadow Chasers

Directed by Jean Marc Larivière, the 2000 film Shadow Chasers follows “eclipse chasers” as they travel incredible distances to witness the last total eclipse of the millennium. At various points along the way, enthusiasts in France, Austria, Germany and India offer their impressions of this historic event, demonstrating the power of a solar eclipse to inspire and bind us in a collective human experience.

Shadow Chasers, Jean Marc Larivière, Carlos Ferrand, Fadel Saleh & Eileen Thalenberg, provided by the National Film Board of Canada


Captured in the vastness of space, the sun and its role in the solar system is a key part in Roman Kroitor and Colin Low’s multi-award-winning 1960 short animated documentary Universe. No film had portrayed outer space with such stunning realism, doing so long before the advent of computer animation. NASA alone ordered more than 300 prints of the film, which also had a huge influence on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Universe, Roman Kroitor & Colin Low, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Satellites of the Sun

The 1974 film Satellites of the Sun was intended as a colour update of Universe by director Sidney Goldsmith, who had worked as an animator on the earlier film. Like Universe, it was a smash hit,  playing in theatres across Canada and internationally—offering audiences as detailed a recreation as was possible at the time of the sun’s turbulent surface. For more background on this film, visit Satellites of the Sun: The Wonders of Earth and Space.

Satellites of the Sun, Sidney Goldsmith, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Northern Lights

The stunning effect of solar wind on our planet’s magnetosphere is the subject of Alan Booth’s 1992 documentary, Northern Lights. The film explores humankind’s efforts to understand the aurora borealis, through the ancient legends of Indigenous peoples up to contemporary space science.

The Northern Lights, Alan Booth, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Mirrors of Time

Jean-Jacques Leduc’s award-winning 1990 animated short Mirrors of Time looks at the central role our sun plays in the measurement of time, from ancient Babylon—where it was the sun’s shadow across the moon that humans could observe and chart—through to the birth of our modern solar calendar.

Mirrors of Time , Jean-Jacques Leduc, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Circle of the Sun

The same year that he co-directed Universe, Colin Low also directed Circle of the Sun, a rare look at the Sun Dance ritual of the Kainai Nation. Cameras were typically not allowed but tribal leaders had been concerned the practice might be dying out and wanted a visual record. It also didn’t hurt that Low was a local boy who had known the Kainai people since childhood, allowing us a privileged archival look at this sacred celebration.

Circle of the Sun, Colin Low, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Image credit: Still from Eclipse at Grand’mère.

You might be tempted to turn your head to the sky to observe this blindingly awesome solar phenomenon, but we recommend you heed astronomer Laurie Rousseau-Nepton’s advice! Without proper protection, this event may be the last thing you see as it can cause blindness.  Watch this short clip to learn more.

🌠 For more about our stars and galaxy, follow Laurie as she leads a massive research project at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Patrick Bossé’s 5 episode docu-series North Star

Still hungry for more content about eclipses? We’ve brought several titles out of the shadows of our vaults on the subject!

Like Ian Elkin and Norma Bailey’s short doc, Chasing the Eclipse, which follows a group of amateur astronomers as they excitedly prepare and travel from Warren, Michigan, to a spot near Brandon, Manitoba, all to see the February 26, 1979, total solar eclipse.

Chasing the Eclipse, Ian Elkin & Norma Bailey, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Or Eclipse at Grand’Mère, a 6-minute time capsule that captures the excitement and awe of the 1963 eclipse that was visible in the small town of Grand-Mère, Quebec.

Eclipse at Grand’Mère, , provided by the National Film Board of Canada

🌖 There’s more to stream here: Eclipses and Other Celestial Phenomena

Add a new comment
  1. Wonderful info by the Film Board.

    — Gloria Grant,
  2. Circle of the Sun, by Colin Low was very moving. I learned that the Blood Tribe is part of the Blackfoot tribe. I may quote the statement that The World Works in Circles–beautiful.

    — Sandra Rumfeldt,
  3. Satellites of the Sun is a beautiful clip.

    — Sandra Rumfeldt,
  4. Found “Circle of the Sun” very interesting.

    — Larysa,

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