Preparing for the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 in Québec

On April 8, 2024, a solar eclipse will take place in the Québec sky. A spectacular and rare phenomenon, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on the Earth. 

Warning notice


Don’t look at the solar eclipse with the naked eye for the duration of the event. Looking at the eclipse without suitable protection can cause serious permanent damage to your eyes.

What is a solar eclipse

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on the Earth.

In places in the path of the Moon's shadow, the Sun will appear to have darkened. Depending on the distance between the Sun and Moon, and their position, it's possible to see two types of solar eclipse:

  • Total eclipse: The Moon completely covers the Sun. 
  • Partial eclipse: The Sun and Moon are not perfectly aligned. 

An eclipse path of totality encompasses the sectors where the eclipse is complete. During this phase of the eclipse, it seems as if night has fallen for a few minutes.

Outside the path of totality, the eclipse is partial, as the Moon only hides the Sun to a certain degree. 

A total solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon. In Québec, the last one occurred in 1972, while the next will take place in 2106. However, partial solar eclipses do occur periodically in Canada. Consult the dates of upcoming partial solar eclipses in Canada This hyperlink will open in a new window..

How to protect your eyes during the upcoming solar eclipse

Warning notice

It is important to supervise children and non-self-sufficient persons to ensure that they comply with the following instructions at all times.

Observing the Sun without using protective equipment should be avoided, as it can cause permanent damage to the eyes, even with conventional sun protection such as sunglasses or contact lenses. This risk increases during eclipses, as the Sun's luminosity decreases, reducing the eye's protective reflex.

If you'd like to observe the eclipse, there are safe methods available. Indirect methods are preferable, as the risks are lower than with direct observation.

    Indirect observation of the eclipse

    There are safe options for observing the solar eclipse indirectly, i.e. without looking squarely at the sun:

    • Use a eclipse projector to observe a small image of the sun at the bottom of a closed box. Learn how to build your own projector to watch solar eclipses safely This hyperlink will open in a new window.
    • Observe the shadows as you cross the fingers of one hand over the other and look at the ground. The sunlight passing through the opening in the fingers will project the image of the eclipse onto the ground. To be safe rather than sorry, keep your back to the sun at all times.
    • Watch the eclipse on the websites of several organizations that will be broadcasting the event live, including the Astrolab at Parc national du Mont-Mégantic This hyperlink will open in a new window..

    Direct observation of the eclipse

    People who choose to observe the eclipse directly must protect their eyes at all times by using solar eclipse glasses that comply with the international ISO 12312-2 standard.

    Before using certified eyewear, you must

    • ensure that they come from a reliable supplier, either directly from the manufacturer or from a recognized distributor.
    • check lenses and frames for damage before use.
    • note that eclipse glasses can be worn over your regular prescription glasses if they thoroughly cover your eyes.
    • ensure that only the sun is visible through the glasses when you are outdoors. If you are indoors, only strong light sources such as the filaments of incandescent lamps or certain LED lamps, such as smartphone flashlights, should be very faintly visible through the glasses.
    Warning notice


    Sunglasses, even good quality ones with a very dark tint, do not provide enough protection to observe the eclipse, even for a few seconds.

    You can safely pursue day-to-day indoor activities if you avoid looking directly at the sun. It is not safe to watch the eclipse through windows, mirrors, and curtains.

    How the solar eclipse will unfold in Québec

    The solar eclipse will take place in the skies over Canada, the United States, and Mexico. In Québec, on April 8, the population of all these regions will be able to observe a partial eclipse, with varying degrees of intensity depending on the location. The partial eclipse will begin around 2:11 p.m. and end around 4:45 p.m. EST (Eastern Standard Time), depending on the region. 

    Course of the solar eclipse in the path of totality

    People living in the path of totality, which crosses southern Québec over a width of around 200 km, will witness a total eclipse. In this path, the total solar eclipse will take place between 3:25 and 3:40 pm. At this point, the Moon will be perfectly aligned between the Sun and Earth, resulting in a period of darkness.

    The municipalities of Montréal, Sherbrooke, Lac-Mégantic, and Cap-aux-Meules are included in the path of totality that crosses, in whole or in part, the regions of Montréal, Montérégie, Estrie, Centre-du-Québec, Chaudière-Appalaches, and Îles-de-la-Madeleine. 

    Possible effects of the solar eclipse on eye health

    During a solar eclipse, the many mechanisms that normally protect the eye, such as the automatic averting of the gaze, the eyelid closure reflex, and watering of the eyes, are reduced or absent, since the luminosity emitted by the Sun is less powerful.

    However, because solar radiation is so intense during an eclipse, it can damage the eye's retina and cause temporary or permanent vision problems. Eye problems can emerge as

    • lesions in the retina that cause no pain on exposure, but may prove irreversible. These lesions create a reduction in vision caused by a permanently blurred or dark spot in the middle of the field of vision. They do not appear immediately, but several hours after viewing the Sun.
    • lesions in the cornea caused by ultraviolet rays. These painful lacerations lead to a sharp drop in visual acuity and intolerance to light.

    In the event of eye symptoms developing in the hours or days following viewing of the eclipse, it is advisable to consult an eye care professional without delay.

      School Safety Measures for the Solar Eclipse

      School organizations are responsible for putting in place the necessary measures to ensure the safety of their students and staff for the duration of the solar eclipse.

      If you are a parent of a student, your school will inform you of the measures that will be put in place for the day of the eclipse. These measures will also cover the period when students return home.

      If your school has designated this day as a pedagogical day, the same safety requirements apply. You will be informed of any childcare or supervision services that will be available to students until the end of the solar eclipse period.

      Being outdoors during the solar eclipse

      Being outdoors during a solar eclipse is not a health hazard if you're not looking directly at the sun. You can enjoy your usual outdoor activities throughout the eclipse.

      Warning notice


      Don't give in to the temptation to observe the solar eclipse, even briefly, without proper protection. It's best to wear a hat or cap.

      Tips for driving during the solar eclipse

      It is safe to drive during the eclipse. However, do not allow this spectacular phenomenon to district you while driving. Windows, even tinted ones, and the windshield of your vehicle do not afford adequate protection to watch the eclipse. Do not directly observe the sun and do not use solar eclipse glasses since they only allow you to see the sun and cannot, therefore, be worn while driving.

      Do not stop your vehicle on the road or on the shoulder to watch the eclipse. You must at all times comply with the Highway Safety Code and allow emergency vehicles to circulate.

      Traffic congestion and slowdowns are possible in areas where a total eclipse will be visible and near numerous assembly sites organized to observe the eclipse. Allow extra time to reach your destination. Consult the Québec 511 This hyperlink will open in a new window. website or dial 511 for information on the state of the road network.

      Heavier demand for electric vehicle charging stations is also anticipated in certain sectors. Plan recharging time for your vehicle accordingly.

      If you work outdoors 

      To protect your health and safety, as well as your physical and psychological well-being, please observe the following recommendations if you're an outdoor worker.

      • Do not look directly at the eclipse without proper protection for the duration of the eclipse.
      • For personnel who have to look up to the sky, we recommend keeping the sun out of their field of vision (e.g. standing with their backs to the sun).
      • Avoid observing or photographing the eclipse through a lens (e.g. cell phone, binoculars, telescope) without a suitable solar filter. Activities with this type of equipment should be postponed until after the eclipse to limit all risks.

      If you have pets or livestock

      As pets are unlikely to look at the sun, the risk to their eyes is very low. To minimize these risks, you can keep your pet indoors. However, your pet may become excited during the eclipse. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian.

      During a solar eclipse, farm animals may sometimes react as if it were evening, adopting nocturnal behaviour (e.g., returning to the barn or stable, lying down, or eating). Others may stop their activities for a few minutes out of curiosity. As with pets, farm animals don't tend to look at the sun, so there’s very little risk of damage to their eyes.

      Last update: April 4, 2024


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