Total solar eclipse on July 2, 2019 in Paiguano, Chile. Around 25,0000 tourists arrived to Paiguano, … [+]
Earlier today a rare “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse took place just hours after the solstice. The Moon covered an astonishing 99.4% of the Sun at its peak, making is almost a total solar eclipse.
Here are all the best photos and videos of the “ring of fire”.
When is the next ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse?
That’s key. Its brevity—a result of its magnitude—is very rare, with no equal coming up in the near future. The next time the Moon will create such a slim sliver around the Sun and cause another almost-total “ring of fire” eclipse will be on May 9, 2032, when for 22 seconds 99.57% of the Sun will be covered—so the ring will be even slimmer. Sadly, it will take place across a remote region of the south Atlantic Ocean.
The next annular solar eclipse in North America takes place in under 12 months, but it’s actually a total solar eclipse you should really be aiming to travel to see.
Why you need to see a total solar eclipse
Even the 2032 annular solar eclipse is not the eclipse you’re looking for. “Nothing —absolutely nothing—compares to a total eclipse of the Sun,” Paul Cox, Chief Astronomical Officer at robotic telescope service and “eclipse broadcaster” Slooh, told me. “There are no celestial events that so profoundly affect those who witness them, and for me, it’s always been an overwhelming experience, bringing me to tears—usually during our live broadcasts!”
What is the ‘path of totality?’
If you think that a 99% eclipse is OK, you’re doing it all wrong. You must get inside the narrow “path of totality” to experience a total solar eclipse. Only then will you enjoy the wonders of totality; rapidly dropping temperatures, quickly gathering darkness, drop-dead gorgeous “diamond rings” around the Moon, and a few minutes to gawp at the Sun’s outer atmosphere—the solar corona—spilling into space.
It’s not called “nature’s greatest experience” for nothing.
So here are the three “best” total solar eclipses taking place in the 2020s that you absolutely must plan a trip to—and they’re “once-in-a-lifetime” stuff:
1 – 2024’s ‘Great North American Eclipse’
What: total solar eclipse
When: April 8, 2024
Where: Mexico, U.S. and Canada. Here’s a map.
Maximum duration (and where): 4 minutes 28 seconds (Nazas, Mexico)
Choice viewing locations along the “path of totality”: Mazatlán, Mexico; Dallas and Austin, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Niagara Falls, Canada/U.S.
This is the big one—and the longest easily observable total solar eclipse for years—but you do need to be in the right place to get the most of this once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse in North America (the following really big total solar eclipse in North America isn’t until 2045). A 100 miles-wide “path of totality”—the Moon’s shadow—will pass over 15 U.S. States. It could be watched by 50 million people. Expect crowds.
The Temple of Hatshepsut, also known as the Djeser-Djeseru (“Holy of Holies”) in the southern … [+]
AFP via Getty Images
2 – 2027’s ‘Eclipse Of The Century’
What: total solar eclipse
When: August 2, 2027
Where: Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia. Here’s a map.
Maximum duration (and where): 6 minutes 23 seconds (southeast of Luxor, Egypt)
Choice viewing locations along the “path of totality”: “Mos Espa” Star Wars film set, Tunisia; Luxor, Egypt; Mecca, Saudi Arabia
If you only travel long-haul to experience ONE total solar eclipse, make it this one. At a whopping 6 minutes 23 seconds totality—unrivalled on land since 1991 and not possible to see again until a similar eclipse in the year 2114 that passes over the Taj Mahal, India —the statistics alone make this irresistible.
Now add Egypt’s “Valley of the Kings.” Oh, and a Star Wars film set in Tunisia. It could also be called the “weather-proof eclipse”: North Africa will offer as surefire a clear sky as it’s possible to get, though eclipse-chasers do need to be aware of the summer heat, which in North Africa in August can reach 41°C/106°F at midday. Fly to Luxor, form a queue outside the Temple of Hatshepsut.
The iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge at sunset on May 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. … [+]
3 – 2028’s ‘Great Antipodean Eclipse’
What: total solar eclipse
When: July 22, 2028
Where: Australia and New Zealand. Here’s a map.
Maximum duration (and where): 5 minutes 10 seconds (Kimberley, Western Australia)
Choice viewing locations along the “path of totality”: A cruise ship off the Kimberley Coast, Australia; Karlu Karlu (Devil’s marbles), Australia; Blue Mountains, Australia; Sydney Harbour, Australia; Queenstown, New Zealand
A total solar eclipse is coming to Sydney Harbour. There will be vast crowds around the Sydney Opera House, Bondi Beach and South Coogee, but don’t overlook Australia’s other landmark sites crossed by this total solar eclipse. The Devil’s Marbles in the Northern Territory will make a great viewing spot, as will the Kimberley in Western Australia. Having already had a short total solar eclipse in 2023, Australia gets more in 2030, 2037 and 2038—that’s FIVE total solar eclipses in just 15 years.
Disclaimer: I am editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.