UdeM’s Eclipse Ambassadors: Shining Bright in the Eclipse’s Shadow

Cyril Dumontier, un ambassadeur à la maîtrise en astrophysique, avait organisé un événement pour une quinzaine de personnes. Crédit : C. Dumontier.
Cyril Dumontier, un ambassadeur à la maîtrise en astrophysique, avait organisé un événement pour une quinzaine de personnes. Crédit : C. Dumontier.

Thanks to their behind-the-scenes efforts, the 119 eclipse ambassadors trained at the Université de Montréal carried out a wide range of initiatives before and during the solar eclipse on April 8, helping thousands of people enjoy this rare celestial spectacle.

The Ambassadors programme for the April 8 2024 solar eclipse, led by the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal and supported by the Centre for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec and the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic in collaboration with numerous partners, came to a close on May 3rd at a cocktail party celebrating the exceptional commitment of the 119 ambassadors. 

These ambassadors are students of all levels, mainly from the Université de Montréal but also from other Quebec institutions, who took one of the three training courses on solar eclipses and science communication offered in June 2023, July 2023 or February 2024. Coming from a variety of disciplines, from physics to anthropology, biological sciences and education, they were trained, equipped, and supported by Marie-Eve Naud and Heidi White, astrophysicists and professional science communicators. Their mission was to carry out a range of initiatives to raise awareness for the solar eclipse on April 8th, 2024 among their surroundings and community. They were free to choose the audience, the place, the time, the way in which they intervened and the scale of their commitment. 

Long before the big day, the ambassadors were already hard at work, taking part in events such as the AstroMIL on October 14 2023 and the iREx Grande conférence on March 27 2024 as volunteers. Many also took the initiative of delivering presentations on eclipses in primary and secondary schools, scout groups, senior centres, libraries, municipalities, community centres, online and even in their own homes! Others used social media to share their enthusiasm for this unique and rare phenomenon. Finally, around sixty of the ambassadors agreed to distribute eclipse glasses before April 8th, enabling over 3,500 more people to be well-equipped to observe the Sun in complete safety.  

On the day of the eclipse, the ambassadors’ unwavering dedication shone brilliantly. Many guided the tens of thousands of people who gathered at the many events across the province, including those held on UdeM campuses: at the CEPSUM, the MIL campus, the Institut de recherche en biologie végétale at the Biodôme, the main campus and the Ste-Hyacinthe campus. Others organised their own events, transforming the roof of their building, a park near their home or a carefully identified plot of land in the path of totality into improvised observation sites. 

The ambassadors made a considerable impact with their diverse actions, reflecting their individual strengths and interests, reaching over 20,000 people in total. Their testimonials highlight how this experience positively influenced their careers. For some, the training heightened their excitement for the astronomical event, while others discovered a passion for science communication. They all took great pride in helping their loved ones appreciate this rare celestial phenomenon.

It’s a safe bet that the ambassadors and the thousands of people they reached will remember the date of April 8 2024 for a long time!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.