Eclipse waiting: a project for the 2020s

Worldwide, the 2020s will bring us 22 solar eclipses: seven total, seven annular and eight partial. (An annular eclipse occurs when the moon is too far away to cover the sun completely — the sun becomes a ‘ring of fire’ surrounding the black disk of the moon.)

Solar eclipseImage: Jordan Lye

The most high-profile spectacles include total eclipses across North America on 8 April 2024; Spain on 12 August 2026; Spain (again), North Africa and the Middle East on 2 August 2027; and Australia and New Zealand on 22 July 2028. (Click below for my guide to the total solar eclipses of the 2020s for Physics World.)

The moon’s shadow becomes somewhat besotted with Spain over the next few years. In addition to the total eclipses of 2026 and 2027 — both of which have good weather prospects — there will be an annular eclipse across central and eastern Spain in 2028, as well as a partial eclipse across the whole of the Iberian peninsula in 2025.

All in all, Spain provides a unique environment for a long-term project I’m running called “Eclipse waiting”. The objective is to chronicle the exponential build-up of public expectation as the 2026/27 eclipses approach.

Spain total eclipse

We know that the growth of total-eclipse-awareness within local communities is exponential in nature. For a very long period, very little happens. Then, as totality gets ever closer, anticipation levels start to go off the chart. What are the key events and/or milestones that drive and shape the growth of public awareness? “Eclipse waiting” aims to find out…

NEVER look at the sun with the naked eye. Even if the sun is 99% covered by the moon, the remaining sunlight is extremely bright and can cause permanent damage to the eye. (The only time it is safe to view a solar eclipse with the naked eye is during the few short minutes or seconds of totality during a total eclipse.)

Published by Graham Jones

Astrophysicist and science communicator