The next one is April 8, 2024.
In 2017 there was a total solar eclipse visible from the United States. The previous one was in 1979, so they are pretty rare. The best place to view was Kentucky. It lasted about 3 minutes. Here are some photos:
Past and upcoming
- April 20, 2023: Total solar eclipse – visible in parts of Indonesia, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.
- October 14, 2023: Annular solar eclipse – visible in parts of the United States, Central America, and South America.
- April 8, 2024: Total solar eclipse – visible in parts of North America, including the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
- October 2, 2024: Annular solar eclipse – visible in parts of South America and Antarctica.
- June 30, 1992: An annular solar eclipse took place, and it was visible in parts of South America, the Atlantic Ocean, and Africa. The eclipse was notable for its long duration, with the annularity lasting over 11 minutes in some locations.
- August 11, 1999: A total solar eclipse occurred, visible in parts of Europe, the Middle East, and India. It was the last total solar eclipse of the 20th century and received significant media attention.
- March 29, 2006: A total solar eclipse was visible in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Many people traveled to countries like Turkey and Libya to observe the event.
- August 21, 2017: A total solar eclipse, also known as the “Great American Eclipse,” was visible across the United States from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. It was the first total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States since 1979.
Never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection, even during a partial or annular solar eclipse. Use special solar eclipse glasses or solar filters specifically designed for telescopes, binoculars, or cameras. Ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not sufficient to protect your eyes from the Sun’s harmful rays.
For the best viewing experience, try to find a location within the path of totality (for a total solar eclipse) or an area with a high percentage of coverage (for partial or annular eclipses). Research the local circumstances and timing of the eclipse, and choose a spot with a clear and unobstructed view of the sky.
The weather plays a crucial role in eclipse viewing. Cloudy skies can obstruct the view of the Sun, so try to choose a location with a good chance of clear skies. Keep an eye on the weather forecast leading up to the eclipse and be prepared to change your plans if necessary.
Popular viewing locations can become crowded, so arrive early to secure a good spot. This also gives you time to set up any equipment, like telescopes or cameras, and familiarize yourself with the area.
Solar eclipses can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the type and your location. Be patient and enjoy the experience, as these events are relatively rare and can be awe-inspiring.
You need to wear glasses like these to keep your eyes safe.
2. Can I view a solar eclipse with the naked eye?
No, not unless you’re particularly fond of the idea of potentially damaging your eyesight. The sun’s rays can be harmful, so you need special solar viewing glasses, or a pinhole projector to safely view an eclipse. Regular sunglasses are about as useful as a chocolate teapot in this scenario.
3. Where is the best place to view a solar eclipse?
The best place to view a solar eclipse is within what’s known as the “path of totality,” where the moon completely covers the sun. It’s kind of like being in the front row at a concert, only the band is the sun and the moon, and the music is the awe-inspiring silence of the universe.
4. Can I take pictures of the solar eclipse?
Yes, you can, but remember, your camera lens needs protection too. Just as looking directly at the sun during an eclipse can harm your eyes, it can also damage your camera sensor. Special solar filters are needed for this task. It’s like giving your camera a pair of cool shades.
5. What happens if it’s cloudy during a solar eclipse?
Well, the eclipse will still happen, but your view might be more… impressionistic. Clouds can obscure the view, but if they’re thin or scattered, you might still catch this cosmic spectacle.
6. Can I view a solar eclipse in a reflection?
Yes, this is one way to watch an eclipse safely. It’s like the sun is practicing social distancing. You can use a bucket of water, a mirror, or any other reflective surface to watch the eclipse indirectly.
7. What’s the big deal about totality?
“Totality” is when the moon completely covers the sun, and it’s the only time it’s safe to look at the eclipse without eye protection. It’s also when things get really, genuinely surreal. The temperature drops, birds might go quiet, and for a few precious minutes, day turns into night. It’s the universe’s most dramatic costume change.
9. Do animals react to solar eclipses?
Some animals do indeed seem to react to solar eclipses. Birds might go back to roost, cows might return to the barn, and your dog might give you a very confused look. It’s like Mother Nature briefly hits the “pause” button.
10. Are solar eclipses bad luck?
Despite what you might have heard, solar eclipses are not harbingers of doom. They’re natural phenomena that have been observed and studied for thousands of years. So don’t worry, you don’t have to hide under your bed.
It makes people jump with joy.
All you can see is the out gas from the sun.
Infographics illustrate how it all works. The moon blocks sun light and creates a shadow on earth.
Note the location of sun, moon, and earth. The full shadow is called the umbra and the half shadow is the penumbra. Here you can see the area of partial and total eclipse.
More about the moon and the sun.
Join a viewing party to enjoy this once in a lifetime natural event.
Solar eclipse viewing tips infographic
A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon completely covers the Sun’s disk, causing the sky to darken and the Sun’s corona (its outer atmosphere) to become visible. This type of eclipse is the most spectacular and can only be observed from a narrow path on Earth called the “path of totality.” Observers outside of this path will see a partial solar eclipse.
A partial solar eclipse happens when the Moon partially covers the Sun’s disk, causing the Sun to appear as a crescent or partially obscured disk. This type of eclipse is more common than total solar eclipses and can be observed over a broader area.
An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is at its farthest point in its orbit around the Earth (apogee) and does not entirely cover the Sun’s disk. This results in a bright ring of sunlight, known as the “ring of fire,” surrounding the dark silhouette of the Moon.
- Use proper solar filters: Never look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, even during a partial or annular eclipse. Use solar viewing glasses with ISO 12312-2 certification or solar filters specifically designed for viewing the sun. Regular sunglasses, even those with dark lenses, are not sufficient to protect your eyes.
- Inspect your solar filters: Before using solar viewing glasses or filters, inspect them for any damage, such as scratches, pinholes, or tears. If you find any defects, do not use the glasses or filters, as they may not provide adequate protection.
- Use safe viewing techniques: If you don’t have solar viewing glasses, you can use the pinhole projection method to indirectly view the eclipse. Simply poke a small hole in a piece of cardboard, and hold it up to the sun so that the sunlight passes through the hole and projects onto a flat surface, like a sheet of paper or the ground. This will create a small, inverted image of the eclipsed sun that you can safely observe.
- Avoid using optical devices without filters: Do not use binoculars, telescopes, or cameras to look at the sun directly without proper solar filters, as these devices can intensify the sun’s rays and cause severe eye damage.
- Supervise children: Make sure children are aware of the potential dangers of looking directly at the sun and are using proper eye protection. Supervise their eclipse viewing to ensure they are following safety guidelines.
- Watch for changes in visibility: Be aware that during a partial or annular eclipse, the sun’s brightness can change rapidly as the moon moves across its surface. Be prepared to adjust your viewing method accordingly.
- Remove filters only during totality: If you are in the path of totality during a total solar eclipse, you may remove your solar filters during the brief period when the sun is entirely blocked by the moon. Be sure to put the filters back on before the sun starts to reappear as the moon moves away.
- Check local weather forecasts: Cloudy or overcast weather can obstruct your view of a solar eclipse. Keep an eye on the weather forecast leading up to the event and consider traveling to a location with better viewing conditions if necessary.