Solar eclipses occur when occultation happens. Occultation is when the Moon moves in its orbit between the Earth and the Sun. During an eclipse, the Moon’s shadow casts across the Earth’s surface. During Annular or Partial eclipses, never look at the sun directly as it can cause damage to your eyes!
General Eclipse Facts
- There can be between 2 and 5 solar eclipses per year
- A total solar eclipse is a very rare occurrence which only happens every 1-2 years
- The maximum amount of time a total eclipse can last is 7.5 minutes
- If you see points of light during an eclipse, you are actually seeing other planets
- Air temperature drops and the immediate area becomes dark during a total solar eclipse
- There are three types of eclipses – Total, Annular and Partial
- The width of the path of totality is normally around 160 km across which can go across an area of the Earth’s surface about 10,000 miles long
Total Solar Eclipse Facts
A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon totally blocks the Sun. Total eclipses are often described as a “hole in the sky” by observers. Unlike other eclipses, this type of eclipse can actually be looked at directly, without causing damage to your eyes as the Sun’s rays are fully blocked. Total solar eclipses have not always been visible on the Earth’s surface and will also not be visible in the very distant future.
The lunar orbit’s rate changes each year and as the Moon’s orbit widens, total solar eclipses will no longer occur. Of course, this isn’t expected for about another 600 million years so you’ll be able to view them for at least your entire life. If the Sun is active, you may see solar prominences, loops, and flares during the moments of totality.
The next total solar eclipse will occur April 18, 2024. On average, a total solar eclipse occurs on Earth about every 18 months. Unlike total solar eclipses, Annual and Partial eclipses do not cover the entire surface of the Sun, making them unsafe for viewing without proper eye protection.