Looking for the best Montreal spots to see the solar eclipse? There's an app for that

It also tracks the eclipse in real time and guides you through the process.

A total solar eclipse in progress. Right: Someone holds an iPhone showcasing a map feature on a Montreal-made app dedicated to solar eclipses.

Total solar eclipse in progress. Right: A phone showcasing a Montreal-made app dedicated to solar eclipses.

Since April 8 is your only chance to see a total solar eclipse in Montreal for the next 180-odd years, you'd better make sure you're ready so you don't miss it. Have you picked up your free protective glasses yet? Have you decided on the vantage point you'll watch from or the eclipse party you'll attend?

If you need help deciding on the best Montreal spot to catch a stellar view of this rare astronomical phenomenon, then you're in luck because there's an app for that and it's totally free.

The My Eclipse app (English version) or Mon Éclipse app (French version) is described in the App Store as being "more than an app" but rather "your personal guide to navigating and experiencing these celestial spectacles," noting that it "achieves pinpoint accuracy for the trajectory of upcoming solar eclipses."

It uses complex algorithms and trigonometry to provide users with specific data that's personalized for any address you input, such as the duration of the eclipse, the amount of coverage you'll be able to see and optimal viewing times down to the second.

This is important because the duration of the eclipse will vary depending on your location, lasting one minute in Montréal-Nord compared to up to one-and-a-half minutes in other parts of Montreal, a news release from the Université de Montéal (UdeM) explains.

Screenshots from the My Eclipse app / Mon \u00c9clipse app, which shows you whether you're in the totality zone and provides optimal viewing times.Screenshots from the My Eclipse app / Mon Éclipse app, which shows you whether you're in the totality zone and provides optimal viewing times.Ilana Belfer | MTL Blog

So if, for example, you can't decide whether to attend the eclipse party being held at the Montreal Science Centre or the one at Parc Jean-Drapeau why not plug both locations into the app? It will tell you that at the Montreal Science Centre, the eclipse will be visible in its totality for one minute and 27 seconds versus one minute and 21 seconds at Parc Jean Drapeau's Espace 67 amphitheatre.

You might even want to plug in your own home address to see if it's worth hanging out on your rooftop instead.

The app also allows you to track the eclipse in real-time and get text as well as audio information about each stage of the process.

Plus, you can prepare in advance by running a simulation through the app. Just select the date and time you want to pretend it is and press play as an audio guide ushers you through what's happening at any given moment — "First contact between moon and sun… look around you for some crescents."

Screenshots from the My Eclipse app / Mon \u00c9clipse app, which allows users to run simulations tracking the progression of an eclipse.Screenshots from the My Eclipse app / Mon Éclipse app, which allows users to run simulations and track the progression of an eclipse.Ilana Belfer | MTL Blog

My Eclipse was developed by UdeM students Jia Guo and Juba Foul, under the supervision of professor Eugene Syriani from the Department of Computer Science and Operations Research (DIRO).

"The Fédération des astronomes amateurs du Québec (FAAQ) had asked the DIRO to design an eclipse app, and second-year students Guo and Foul were chosen because they had the right computer skills and an interest in astronomy," reads the UdeM news release. "Together, they developed the computational algorithms and the interface to run Mon Éclipse. It was the first time they'd created an app for use outside the walls of academe."

The app was released in October 2023 so that users could have "the best experience" during future solar eclipses, including the annular eclipse on October 14, 2023 — but especially for the upcoming total solar eclipse on April 8, according to the FAAQ website.

You can download the My Eclipse app from the Apple Store for iOS or Google Play Store for Android.