For those who love all things weird and wonderful when it comes to the night sky — from meteor showers to eclipses to full blood moons — 2021 has definitely been an eventful year. And now, the only total solar eclipse of 2021 is coming to the skies on December 4th. Unfortunately, for Americans, the eclipse won’t be viewable at all. But it will be viewable in other places if you’re doing some early December travel. Indeed, unless you are one of the few thousand residents living in the southernmost part of the world, there’s almost no chance you’ll get to see it.
Here is everything you need to know about the total solar eclipse on December 4th — and why you shouldn’t give up hope for more rare sky events.
What Exactly Is a Solar Eclipse?
A solar eclipse is an ultra-rare occurrence when the path of the moon and Earth line up perfectly so that the moon entirely blocks out the view of the sun, casting a shadow over Earth. These are pretty rare, as the last one in the United States was back in 2017.
When Is the Solar Eclipse Happening?
The total solar eclipse is on December 4 (next Saturday) and is expected to last about a minute and 54 seconds at 7:33 UTC (coordinated universal time).
Where Can I See It?
Well, here is where things get a little tricky.
The bad news is that the total solar eclipse is only going to be visible in Antarctica. If you are desperate enough to see the eclipse, you could potentially get there via a cruise — if you are somehow already booked to be there, congratulations — (commercial flights don’t go to Antarctica) but keep in mind it will cost you a whole lot of money.
So you’re probably better off waiting until the next total solar eclipse closer to you.
The southernmost tips of South America, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand will get a peek at the big show, with partial solar eclipses occurring there as well on December 4th. So, are you planning on doing any traveling? You might want to book a trip now.
So When Is the Next Total Solar Eclipse?
Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the next total solar eclipse in the United States (and the rest of North America) won’t occur until April 8, 2024. That may seem far away but relative to eclipses, it’s actually pretty soon after the last one back in 2017.