Montrealers were treated to a partial eclipse under clear skies on Monday, as thousands gathered in parks across the city. 

In Montreal, the sun was about 58 per cent covered, according to an interactive map on NASA's website.

But that didn't dampen the enthusiasm of sky watchers across the city.

A viewing party at McGill University drew a crowd of about 8,000 people.

eclipse montreal

The Yazer and Fiala family watched the eclipse at McGill University along with a crowd of others. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

"We've been planning this for almost a year. We bought 11,000 pairs of eclipse glasses, I recruited almost 50 volunteers to come help out today, so it's been a big event in the making," said Kelly Lepo, who organized the McGill viewing party.

"Eclipses are a chance to share a little bit of science with the public. This eclipse is a chance to view an event with everyone in North America, and I think that's a great example of how we all live under the same skies."

The moon's path started to touch the sun at 1:21 p.m. in Montreal and peaked at 58 per cent at the optimal viewing time, roughly 2:38 p.m.

The Levy family from Boston was vacationing in Montreal, and joined the viewing party at McGill.

Levy family, eclipse

The Levy family, visiting Montreal from Boston, joined the thousands at McGill University to view the partial eclipse. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

"I've never really seen an eclipse, so it's cool to know what it looks like," said nine-year-old Emanuel Levy.

His father, Dr. Ofer Levy, is a professor at Harvard University.

"I think it's an opportunity for community, isn't it," he said. "You see so many people showing up here from every type of background and age and we are sharing as human beings in the natural world … the eclipse is something that doesn't happen very often." 

"There's been a fair bit of media hype but I think it's worth it because it is a moment to reflect on the wonder of nature."

Admission was free Monday at the Montreal Plantetarium. A crowd of about 10,000 was expected, but 35,000 people showed up.

Next total eclipse in 2024

CBC Montreal's weather specialist Frank Cavallaro was on the road during the peak of the eclipse, so he pulled over.

Frank Cavallaro, eclipse

CBC Montreal Weather Specialist Frank Cavallaro pulled over at 2:38 p.m. to watch the partial eclipse from the side of the road. (Frank Cavallaro/CBC)

"I put on my safety eclipse glasses and enjoyed the view. The moon was covering the sun partially. Even though it was hazy, it was eye-catching. The sun was a dark brown, reddish colour as the moon passed over it," Cavallaro said. "I'm looking forward to clear skies in 2024."

Montrealers will get a chance to experience a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

It's a date everyone should circle on their calendar, according to Montreal skywatcher and contributing writer for National Geographic, Andrew Fazekas.

"[The total eclipse] will be skirting Montreal — just south of Montreal. It'll be a tiny drive for Montrealers to get there. It should be an event that nobody should miss," Fazakas told CBC on Monday from South Carolina.

Monday's total eclipse was seen across several states in the U.S. — from Oregon to South Carolina.

Fazekas drove with his family all the way from Montreal to South Carolina for his first opportunity to view the phenomenon in 30 years of skywatching.

Andrew Fazekas

Montreal astronomer Andrew Fazekas drove to South Carolina to experience Monday's total eclipse. (CBC)

"Totality is usually in areas that are very remote across the Earth — the Andes in Peru or in Siberia. So this one was a no-brainer for me.  I just packed up the car with the family and drove down just to be sure I got a chance ot view it."

The skies were cloudy, but cleared up just minutes before the eclipse.

"It's a very emotional moment, especially being surrounded by tens of thousands of people screaming and yelling around you. The energy around us was amazing. And to see the clockwork of the universe play out, literally in front of our eyes was amazing to see.…The entire area suddenly got dark like it was an evening twilight. It was just awe-inspiring," Fazekas said.

"It is a bucket list kind of thing to do in your lifetime."