What is a total solar eclipse?

Total solar eclipse
Emmanuele Sordini / Online Photo Gallery

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon completely covers the face of the Sun as seen from Earth. Blotting out the Sun's brilliant disk allows us to see the day as if it were night, and it reveals the solar corona's ghostly wisps.

When is the next solar eclipse going to happen?

The next solar eclipse will occur on October 23, 2023, but this one will be an annular eclipse. This occurs when the Moon is far enough away from Earth in its slightly oval-shaped orbit that it doesn't cover the Sun completely. The Sun appears around the Moon's limb as a "ring of fire."

Read more about the 2023 eclipse!

The next total solar eclipse begins on April 8, 2024, at 15:42:10 Universal Time (UT), when the shadow touches down on the Pacific Ocean, and the Moon takes its first small bite out of the Sun. The Moon's shadow will trace a path of totality all the way from central Mexico, across Texas, up through New England, and into the Canadian Maritimes. The full eclipse begins at 12:38:47 UT; the longest totality will last is 4 minutes and 29 seconds. Tens of millions more will see a partial eclipse, provided skies are clear.

Read more about the 2024 eclipse!

Where's the best place to watch the 2024 solar eclipse?

The best location to watch the total solar eclipse will be on land, along the eclipse path that crosses through North America. Weather prospects are generally better along the southern part of the totality track.

If you can't travel to the eclipse and are anywhere in North America, you'll see a partial solar eclipse instead, provided skies are clear. Many well-populated areas will see a deep partial as the Moon passes over most (but not quite all) of the Sun.

Read more about viewing the Sun safely.

After that, when's the next solar eclipse?

There are no total solar eclipses in 2025; after 2024, the next total solar eclipse won't occur until August 12, 2026. Viewers in the Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, and northern Spain will experience totality.