What is a total solar eclipse?

Total solar eclipse
Emmanuele Sordini / Online Photo Gallery

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers the face of the Sun as seen from Earth. The complete coverage allows us to see the day as if it were night, and it reveals the solar corona's ghostly wisps. The next total solar eclipse will occur on December 14, 2020, and the 2020 solar eclipse path will cross through Chile and Argentina.

The rest of the southern half of South America will view a partial eclipse.

Read more about viewing the Sun safely.

When is the next solar eclipse going to happen?

The eclipse begins on December 14, 2020, at 13:33:48 Universal Time (UT), when the shadow touches down on the Pacific Ocean and the Moon takes its first small bite out of the Sun. Totality begins at 14:32:28 UT.

To find the precise start and end times of the 2020 solar eclipse calculated for your location, as well as eclipse maps and other tables, visit NASA's Eclipse website.

Where's the best place to watch the 2020 solar eclipse?

The best location on land to watch the total eclipse will be along the eclipse path that crosses through the middle of Chile and Argentina. This total eclipse is on the shorter side, with a maximum duration of 2 minutes and 9.6 seconds. The maximum duration will occur over central Argentina, and the majority of the eclipse path will fall over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

If you can't get to the eclipse, here are some options to view it online.

When's the next solar eclipse?

The next total solar eclipse will occur on December 4, 2021, and will occur largely over water. Some parts of Antarctica will experience totality. Find more information at NASA's eclipse site.

For a list of upcoming solar eclipses through 2024, click here.