Tag Archives: solar eclipse

Gracias a San José de Jáchal

Our livestream concluded with an eclipsed sun setting behind the Andes.



Thank you to everyone in San José de Jáchal, Argentina, who helped us deliver a fabulous timeanddate.com livestream of last week’s total solar eclipse. The support we received from the Municipalidad de Jáchal was simply incredible; we’re especially grateful to Domingo Martinez and Matías Torres. Thank you also to Anibal Heredia for the following photos.

The timeanddate.com team in Jáchal: Steffen Thorsen …

… Anne Buckle …

… Adalbert Michelic (centre) and me, alongside the mayor of Jáchal, Miguel Vega (left).

Setting up on the roof of the town hall …

… and talking to local media.

Wish you were here? 7 chances to experience totality in the 2020s

My latest piece for Physics World is a travel guide to the seven total solar eclipses of the 2020s.

Physics World logo


Luxor, on the banks of the River Nile in Egypt, will enjoy 6 minutes 22 seconds of totality on 2 August 2027. (Image: Mahmoud Algazzar)

The return of the Moondance

In the 22 months since the ‘Great American’ total solar eclipse swept across the USA, we’ve had three total lunar eclipses and four partial solar eclipses. Now, the big Moondance is back…


On 2 July a total solar eclipse will take place over the South Pacific Ocean and a narrow strip of Chile and Argentina. I’ll be joining the team from timeanddate.com in San José de Jáchal — in the Argentinian province of San Juan — for a live broadcast of totality.


The path of totality for next week — where the sun is completely covered by the moon — is the (very narrow) dark red strip. The lighter regions indicate areas where a partial solar eclipse is visible.
(Image: timeanddate.com)

An enormous thank you to Luis Domingo Martinez and Matías Torres at the Municipalidad de Jáchal for all their support.

The fascinating rhythm of the sun and the moon

Fascinating rhythm
You’ve got me on the go
Fascinating rhythm
I’m all a-quiver
Fascinating Rhythm (George & Ira Gershwin, 1924)


The motions of the sun and the moon across the sky will create a fascinating rhythm in 2019, producing five different kinds of eclipses. There will also be a rare-ish transit of Mercury.

The first new moon of the year (Sunday 6 January) will produce a partial solar eclipse across most of north-east Asia. Two weeks later, the first full moon of the year (Sunday 20/Monday 21 January) will produce a total lunar eclipse visible across North and South America, Europe and the western half of Africa. (In the US, this eclipse falls on the Sunday night of the Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend, making it a prime-time event…)

Jumping forward six months — when the earth, moon and sun become aligned once again — the new moon of Monday 2 July will produce a total solar eclipse. Totality will be visible along a narrow corridor (about 150 km or 90 miles wide) that begins in the South Pacific and ends close to Buenos Aires in Argentina (map below). The following full moon on Tuesday 16/Wednesday 17 July will produce a partial lunar eclipse across every continent except North America.

2 July 2019 total solar eclipse (timeanddate.com)

Another six-month jump brings us to the year’s final eclipse: an annular solar eclipse on Thursday 26 December. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon is too far from the earth to cover the sun completely: the result is an annulus, which is the shape of a ring (picture below).

Image: Juan Carlos Casado

During the new moon of 26 December, this ‘ring of fire’ will be visible along a narrow path stretching from Saudi Arabia to Guam in the North Pacific (map below).

26 December 2019 annular solar eclipse (timeanddate.com)

One more thing: over the course of five-and-a-half hours on Monday 11 November, the planet Mercury will cross the face of the sun. Transits of Mercury are rare-ish events — they happen about 13 times a century — and can only be seen with a telescope equipped with a telescope solar filter.

I’ll be part of the team at timeanddate.com providing live coverage of the 20-21 January lunar eclipse, 2 July solar eclipse, and 11 November transit of Mercury.


IMPORTANT: NEVER look at the sun with the naked eye.

Getting ready for three Japanese eclipses in the next 18 months…

“OK, so if the earth is here…”

In 2019 Japan will experience two partial solar eclipses. The first comes at the start of the year, on the morning of Sunday 6 January 2019. The second comes at the end of year, on the afternoon of Thursday 26 December 2019. Six months after that, on 21 June 2020, Japan will witness its third partial eclipse within 18 months — but it will then have to wait ten years until the next one…

This week I gave a presentation about the eclipses at a study camp organised by Omikyodaisha, an amazingly inspiring high school in the city of Omihachiman. We had fun thinking about how big — and how far away — the moon and sun would be if the earth was 10 centimetres in diameter. We also asked ourselves: if the moon goes round the earth every 29.5 days, why isn’t there an eclipse every month…?

The school funded 200 pairs of eclipse glasses to give to its students. Thank you to Takeshi Taniguchi, Noriko Nishimura, and the fabulous students at Omikyodaisha for a hugely enjoyable session!


IMPORTANT: NEVER look at the sun with the naked eye.

What is the saros cycle and how does it foretell eclipses?

My latest article for Sky & Telescope begins 2,500 years ago in ancient Babylon, and ends with next week’s total lunar eclipse.

Sky and Telescope, 24 January 2018

The Great American Eclipse on timeanddate.com

It has been a tremendous privilege to work with the incredible team at timeanddate.com on a five-and-a-half hour live broadcast of the Great American Eclipse.

One of the highlights was the screams of schoolchildren when darkness fell upon Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green:


There are more of our Great American Eclipse interviews and videos on the timeanddate.com YouTube channel.

Thank you to everyone who made our broadcast possible, including:

  • Theo Wellington, Jordan Basham and Dr Richard Gelderman at Western Kentucky University
  • Joel Donadel and Noémi Brousmiche at the European Space Agency in Kourou, French Guiana
  • Erwan Prigent and everyone at the PULSAR Kourou Astronomy Club
  • Professor Gordon Orians, University of Washington
  • Monica Young, Sky & Telescope
  • Julie Fooshee, Science Festival Alliance, MIT Museum
  • Dr Jaya Satagopan
  • Martin Stack, Mid Michigan Community College
  • Marcia Witt
  • Dr Donald Bruns
  • Dawn Davis, Fort Sumter National Monument (South Carolina)
  • Jimmie Lucht, Albany Visitors Association (Oregon)
  • Charissa Sedor, Carnegie Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium (Pennsylvania)
  • Hadley Andersen, Bishop Museum (Hawaii)
  • Rocío Guadalupe Salazar Bastarrachea (Mérida, Mexico)
  • Famri Rusdin (Palu, Indonesia)

“Eclipsim”, and other eclipse stories


Image: Cali Soper

An enormous thank you to everyone who took part in our Science + Stories creative-writing competition, organised in partnership with the North Platte Bulletin and A to Z Books.

Throughout history – across all cultures and societies – people have reacted eclipses by creating stories, from hungry cosmic dogs to combative giant birds. We challenged children in west central Nebraska to write their own version of an eclipse myth, and we were completely dazzled by the originality and creativity of the entries we received.

Congratulations to our five winners, who each receive a copy of the National Geographic Space Encyclopedia:

  • Rebecca Kneipp (3rd grade)
  • Mason Kroon (4th grade)
  • Amanda Phillips (5th grade)
  • Cali Soper (13)
  • Joanna Smith (14)

Cali Soper turned her story into a stunning video, which we broadcast during our live coverage of the eclipse on timeanddate.com:


Thank you to George Lauby and the brilliant team at the North Platte Bulletin, plus the wonderful folks at A to Z Books, for making this competition possible.

Deadline approaching for essay contest

The deadline is approaching for our Science + Stories creative-writing competition, being run in partnership with the North Platte Bulletin and A to Z Books.

We’re challenging people of all ages in west central Nebraska to write their own version of an eclipse myth. The winning authors will receive a copy of the National Geographic Space Encyclopedia, and the deadline for entries is Monday July 31st.

(As always, thank you to Neil Pitts for the brilliant dog cartoon!)

Mystery of the moon’s tilted orbit

I’m extremely grateful to the brilliant planetary scientist Kaveh Pahlevan, who shared some wonderful thoughts in this interview for EarthSky. “When a crime happens, investigative police quickly arrive on the scene and try to preserve the evidence. In the case of the moon’s origin, there was a violent event, but there were no witnesses, and we are arriving on the scene five billion years late!”