August 13, 2022

Solar eclipse guide 2022: When, where & how to see them

Solar eclipse guide 2022: When, where & how to see them
Solar eclipse guide 2022: When, where & how to see themSolar eclipse guide 2022: When, where & how to see them

There are two solar eclipses in 2021. First, an annular eclipse commonly referred to as a “ring of fire,” will occur on June 10 and be visible from parts of Canada, Greenland, the Arctic and Russia. Then on Dec. 4, a total solar eclipse will appear over the opposite pole, across the skies of Antarctica. 

December’s eclipse will be the first and only total solar eclipse of 2021; the last one took place on Dec. 14, 2020, in South America. The most recent annular eclipse appeared over Africa and Asia on June 21, 2020

A solar eclipse occurs when the new moon, which is otherwise invisible, makes a rare appearance by crossing in front of the sun’s face, slowly creating the appearance of a “bite” taken from the sun. This continues until the moon fully or partially blocks the sun’s disk. 

Related: ‘Ring of fire’ solar eclipse of 2021 thrills stargazers with sunrise spectacle

A total solar eclipse — like the one that crossed the U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017 — occurs when the moon blocks 100% of the solar disk. If an observer is standing within the path of totality, they will notice a 360-degree sunset and see just the outermost layer of the sun, called the corona, during the total eclipse’s peak. 

An annular eclipse occurs when the moon covers only the middle part of the sun, giving the event a “ring of fire” appearance. The amount of sun that the moon can block on a given eclipse encounter depends on where the moon is located in its elliptical orbit around the Earth. If the moon passes directly in front of the sun when it is near apogee, the point in its orbit where it is farthest from Earth, it will appear smaller than the sun in the sky.

The moon partially covers the sun during an annular solar eclipse as seen in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, early on June 21, 2020.

The moon partially covers the sun during an annular solar eclipse as seen in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, early on June 21, 2020. (Image credit: Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty)

You can see a complete list of the upcoming solar eclipses on NASA’s eclipse website, which provides information about solar eclipses, including detailed maps of each eclipse path. Remember to start making plans for the next great American solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. 

Total solar eclipse on Dec. 4

In this timelapse image of the Great South American Eclipse on July 2, the sun sets behind the Andes mountains as the moon crosses directly in front of it, creating a stunning

In this timelapse image of the Great South American Eclipse on July 2, the sun sets behind the Andes mountains as the moon crosses directly in front of it, creating a stunning “diamond ring” effect in the evening sky. (Image credit: Chirag Upreti)

The last solar eclipse of 2021 will be a total solar eclipse. It will bookend the year’s solar eclipses by appearing over the pole opposite the June 10 event.

The total solar eclipse on Dec. 4 will pass over the Antarctic peninsula, located near the southernmost tip of South America’s cone. Unlike the Northern Hemisphere, however, extreme latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere do not have a lot of land. 

Antarctica and its surrounding waters are the best places to view the eclipse, but some places on other continents will get at least a partial view. The southernmost regions within Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa can catch a small shadow of the lunar disk moving over the sun, according to an interactive map from Time and Date.

A NASA map of the path the total solar eclipse of Dec. 4, 2021 will take across Antarctica.

A NASA map of the path the total solar eclipse of Dec. 4, 2021 will take across Antarctica. (Image credit: Fred Espenak/NASA)

Unlike the annular solar eclipse, the moon is closer to Earth this time around. The new moon will cover the full face of the sun, plunging the areas within the path of totality into temporary twilight. Otherwise, the area in the eclipse’s path will be bathing in perpetual daylight during the summer of the Southern Hemisphere. 

After the eclipse, places like Emperor Point in Antarctica won’t experience twilight until the middle of February 2022, according to this sun graph from Time and Date. 

The partial solar eclipse begins at 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT), the greatest point of the total solar eclipse occurs at 2:33 a.m. EST (0733 GMT) and the partial eclipse ends at 3:06 a.m. (0806 GMT), according to NASA

Below is a chart with some eclipse viewing times, featuring data from Time and Date.

Timetable for the solar eclipse on Dec. 4 (All times local)
Location Partial eclipse begins Maximum eclipse Partial eclipse ends % of sun covered
Palmer Station, Antarctica 3:34 a.m. 4:23 a.m. 5:12 a.m. 94%
Emperor Point, Antarctica 3:42 a.m. 4:35 a.m. 5:28 a.m. 100%
Melbourne, Australia 7:53 p.m. 8:12 p.m. below the horizon 2%
Cape Town, South Africa 7:42 a.m. 8:19 a.m. 8:58 a.m. 12%
Cabo Kempe, Argentina below the horizon 4:42 a.m. 4:59 a.m. 25%

How to view the sun safely

WARNING: Looking directly at the sun, even during an annular eclipse, can lead to blindness and other forms of permanent eye damage if you aren’t wearing proper eye protection. 

Solar eclipse viewing tips:

To safely observe the sun or watch an eclipse, you need special protective eyewear or eclipse glasses. Basic sunglasses, even those with UV protection, will not sufficiently protect your eyes. If you’re planning to document the eclipse with any photo equipment, there are special solar filters you can add to make sure the remaining ring of sunlight doesn’t take a toll on your vision. 

The safest way to observe an eclipse is indirectly, using a pinhole camera that you can make easily at home. 

If you must document one of these events, a simple, wide-angle snap should capture the moment, even if you’re using your smartphone camera. 

Editor’s Note: If you snap an amazing solar eclipse photo and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com.

Follow Doris Elin Urrutia on Twitter @salazar_elin. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook