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Everything you need to know to be where you need to be and in the right conditions to witness the extremely rare celestial phenomenon.

Everything you need to know about the total solar eclipse in Quebec

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Progression of the total solar eclipse of July 2, 2019 from the ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile

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If the vast majority of Canadians will witness a partial eclipse next Monday, April 8, a few million Quebecers and Ontarians will have the chance to be in the zone of totality where they will be able to contemplate the very first total eclipse of the Sun in the country since 1979.

To experience the exceptional phenomenon of total black, you really have to be in a corridor that is approximately 200 km wide and 14,700 km long across North America, explains astrophysicist Olivier Hernandez, director from the Montreal Planetarium.

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The solar eclipse of April 8 in North America.

This area of ​​totality extends from the Pacific to the Atlantic, passing through Mexico, the United States and Canada. It crosses the continent at more than 2,500 km/h.

The Moon's shadow will strike the earth's surface at sunrise in the Pacific Ocean, 3,200 kilometers south of Hawaii, says Olivier Herdandez. It will then rise towards the northeast, to cover more than 6,800 kilometers without encountering land.

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Then it will reach the North American continent near the city of Mazatlán, on the Mexican coast, to cross the States of Durango and Coahuila, and enter the United States through Texas and cross Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. It will also fly over Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Niagara Peninsula, reaching its shores in Ontario and those of the states of Pennsylvania and New York.

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The eclipse will be visible from across Canada. It will be total in the blue line, and partial elsewhere.

The zone of darkness will continue its trajectory along the St. Lawrence valley, and cross southern Quebec and a good part of the island of Montreal . It will darken the skies of Montérégie, Estrie, Centre-du-Québec and Beauce. Darkness will also reach the northern states of Vermont and New Hampshire, before crossing Maine.

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Then the grayling will reach New Brunswick and the northwest of Prince Edward Island before crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence (and the Magdalen Islands) to reach Newfoundland .

The band of totality will end its course in the North Atlantic Ocean, where it will travel another 2,400 kilometers before dying out at sunset sun in the south of Iceland.

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The total shadow, smaller and darker, is also called the umbra. The larger, partial shade is also called penumbra.

The conditions for observing the astronomical phenomenon will vary enormously from one place to another in the southeast of the country. However, only observers who are inside the band of totality will experience the total eclipse in all its splendor.

Outside of totality, it's not a total night, you can't remove your glasses to observe the eclipse, and that's a shame!, notes Olivier Hernandez.

Even just a little outside, the Sun is not completely hidden by the Moon , and night in broad daylight does not occur. A 99.99% partial eclipse is not the same as 99.99% of the experience of a total eclipse: you will always miss the magic of totality.

A quote from Olivier Hernandez, Montreal Planetarium< /blockquote>

The astrophysicist invites those who are on the northern edge of the band of totality to move a few kilometers south to make sure they don't miss anything.

You should know that the limits of the totality band can vary by a few hundred meters, since the Moon is not a perfectly smooth sphere due to the presence of reliefs around its periphery. This reality sometimes lets the bright surface of the Sun infiltrate a little further inside the theoretical shadow zone.

The limits of the entire strip that we see on the maps is not cut with a knife. There remains a sort of zone of uncertainty of a few hundred meters where it is possible that the eclipse is not completely total, warns Olivier Hernandez.

Thus, those who absolutely want to witness a total eclipse must move away from the northern and southern limits and approach the center of the band of totality.

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An eclipse of the Sun for a few moments before totality. (Artistic illustration)

The total eclipse will only be visible in southern Quebec, since the northern limit of the band of totality crosses the island of Montreal from west to west est.

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The totality band of the April 8 solar eclipse in Montreal.

For example, people from Montreal-North and Laval will not have access to all of it, specifies Olivier Hernandez.

Approximately 2.4 million residents of the Montreal metropolitan area are located in the totality zone.

If the cities of Brossard and Longueuil are in the band, the cities of Boucherville, Drummondville and Victoriaville straddle the northern limit of the total eclipse. Certain sectors are thus located in the totality band, while others are outside.

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The totality band of the solar eclipse of April 8, 2024.

The towns of Varennes, Sorel and Trois-Rivières are outside the totality zone, but the towns of Saint-Hyacinthe and Granby are entitled to the total spectacle.

Estrie is without a doubt the most pampered region of Quebec since it is located in the center of the totality band. The cities of Magog, Sherbrooke and Lac-Mégantic are entitled to a period of totality of around 3 minutes 30 seconds. By comparison, totality in Montreal is approximately 1 minute 30 seconds.

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The Golden Horseshoe region is cut in two by the northern limit of the total eclipse.

In Ontario, the Golden Horseshoe region is bisected by the northern limit of the total eclipse.

The city of Hamilton is almost entirely in the total eclipse zone, but the cities of Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Oshawa and Pickering are in the partial eclipse zone.

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Children observe a solar eclipse with glasses designed for the occasion.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">You should keep in mind that you should never look directly at the Sun. Exposure to this intense light can cause eye damage without causing pain. But unlike observers of a partial eclipse, those who witness a total eclipse can remove their glasses during total darkness and put them back on as soon as the Moon leaves the solar disk.

No pair of sunglasses sold in stores allows you to look directly at the Sun. In addition, with the naked eye or with an optical instrument such as a telescope, it is essential to use filters designed specifically to observe the Sun. You should also avoid taking photos or filming with a cell phone.

You must wear glasses throughout the partial phase of the eclipse, but you can remove them during the time of the total eclipse around 3:30 p.m.

A quote from Olivier Hernandez, Montreal Planetarium

You must obviously ensure that you supervise the children at all times during the observation.

The Montreal Planetarium distributes 500,000 glasses thanks to the generosity of the Trottier Family Foundation.

No less than 300,000 glasses were donated to schools and libraries in the Montreal region in the days before the eclipse. We want people to collect their glasses as late as possible so as not to damage them, says Olivier Hernandez, who reminds us that you should always inspect your glasses before using them to ensure that they are not damaged.

We keep between 100,000 and 150,000 glasses to distribute them at the Jean-Drapeau Park metro exit during an event organized on April 8 by the Planetarium, adds Mr. Hernandez.

If you don't have glasses at your disposal, it is also possible to project the image of the Sun on a screen. This method is certainly the safest and least expensive.

At Jean-Drapeau Park, those present will be able to follow the explanations and instructions of two facilitators from giant screens installed on the premises. There will even be a countdown leading to totality, says Olivier Hernandez.

Radio-Canada broadcasts a special broadcast live from the park between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. h.

In addition to this event, the Montreal Science Center, the ASTROLab of Mont-Mégantic National Park and many other organizations, including McGill and Montreal universities, hold observation activities. Find out before you travel since some events are already sold out.

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The Moon completely covers the Sun during the total eclipse of August 21, 2017 in the United States.

During totality, it is possible to see the solar corona which is very white and very spread out several times the diameter of the Sun. It's absolutely spectacular because it's something you never see!, enthuses Olivier Hernandez, who has witnessed three eclipses, but never a total one.

It is also possible to see the chromosphere, which takes the form of a kind of absolutely spectacular pink filament which stands out even better with the naked eye than with the photos.

The chromosphere is in fact a thin layer of pink-colored gas due to the light emission of ionized hydrogen at the Hα wavelength.

Once in totality, we will begin to see the brightest planets appear like Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and even Mercury!, notes the astrophysicist. We will also be able to see a comet passing through the sky at that time if its brightness allows it, he adds.

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Planets and stars visible in the sky during the solar eclipse.

Several of the brightest stars, such as Rigel, Capella, Pollux, Aldebaran, Betelgeuse and Sirius, will also be visible.

It is possible to see all these stars that we don't usually see at night and which are invisible in the sky during the day. We will be able to see them because the Sun will be completely obscured.

A quote from Olivier Hernandez, Montreal Planetarium

Another natural phenomenon is also noticed during a total eclipse: a drop in temperature.

It can be fun to bring your own thermometer to see for yourself a fall temperature between 8 and 10°C. Which is huge for April 8, since we will probably be around an average temperature of around 5°C. We'll probably drop below 0°C, that'll make a big difference.

A quote from Olivier Hernandez, Montreal Planetarium

Nature will also react to the phenomenon. We will also witness different behaviors in certain animals, mainly birds. The variation in brightness will make them sing a little more than usual, mentions Mr. Hernandez, who also notes that since spring will only be in its infancy, the drop in brightness will not influence the behavior of plants and flowers which usually close when there is a loss of light.

If the sky is overcast and the Sun is not directly visible at the time of totality, the most spectacular visual effects will not be observable. The period of darkness, however, will be even darker.

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There are between two and five solar eclipses visible somewhere on Earth each year. Total solar eclipses occur on average every 375 years for a specific location on the globe.

The last total eclipse visible in Canada was produced on February 26, 1979. Residents of southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, northwestern Ontario and the far north of Quebec were then able to observe the phenomenon.

In southern Quebec, the last total solar eclipse was observed in Gaspésie on July 10, 1972. The last total eclipse visible in Montreal took place on August 31, 1932.

The last total eclipse visible in North America in the 21st century was visible in the skies of several US states on August 21, 2017.

The next partial solar eclipse will occur on March 29, 2025 and will be visible in Eastern Canada.

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