Seeing a solar eclipse is one of the most impressive and rare space tourism experiences on earth. Following the 2017 solar eclipse across the U.S., traveling to see an eclipse is an increasingly popular activity for those of us who love space here on earth. Luckily, there are two solar eclipses in 2021 – the first one on June 10th.
This first solar eclipse will be an annular “ring of fire” eclipse, and the rest of this post covers the details of how (and where) to see that eclipse. (The next will be a total solar eclipse that will happen on December 4th.)
If you’re curious about the next solar eclipse, this post has everything you need to know. We cover the basics of eclipses, when and where you can see the eclipse – and how to travel to each destination. We also cover eclipse viewing basics and give a teaser of the 2021 eclipse!
Are you ready to plan your next experience with totality? Dive into this post!
Featured photo credit: t-mizo via Flickr
This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated in June 2021.
What is a Solar Eclipse?
If you’re not familiar with the science behind a solar eclipse, that’s okay – you can still enjoy seeing one even if you’re not an astronomer or astrophysicist!
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. This causes two shadows to fall on the earth – the moon’s shadows – also called the umbra and the penumbra. The path of the penumbra on the earth creates a partial solar eclipse; for a total solar eclipse, the path of the umbra creates “totality,” where the sun is completely blocked by the moon. During an annular solar eclipse, this path is called “annularity.”
What Kind of Solar Eclipse?
Wait… Total? Annular? What? There are different kinds of eclipses. Here’s a quick breakdown.
The next solar eclipse is an annular solar eclipse, where the moon passes between the sun and earth but doesn’t completely block the light. This is in contrast to a partial solar eclipse, where only a portion of the sun is blocked, or a total solar eclipse is an eclipse where the sun is completely blocked by the moon:
Learn more about the types of solar eclipses.
What Happens During an Annular Solar Eclipse?
During an Annular solar eclipse, the moon does not completely block the sun, like in a total eclipse. This means that during annularity, the sun is not completely darkened, and instead a ring of the sun is still visible. As you’d imagine, this is where the nickname of calling this type of eclipse a “ring of fire” came from!
Important Details of the Solar Eclipse in 2021
Curious when and where the 2021 solar eclipse is happening? Read on to learn all the logistics of this eclipse, plus tips on how you can travel and safely view the eclipse.
When Will the Total Solar Eclipse Occur?
The total solar eclipse will occur on June 10, 2021 from 08:12 UTC to 13:11 UTC. The maximum of the eclipse will occur at 10:41 UTC.
This window of time reflects how long the entire planet will see the eclipse – not how long you’ll be able to see it in any given location. Generally, the eclipse will be visible at sunrise in North America, in the mid-morning in Europe, and around sunset in Asia.
Where the annular solar eclipse is visible from land, annularity will last between roughly 3 minutes, 34 seconds and 3 minutes, 51 seconds at its greatest duration.
Where will the Total Solar Eclipse Be Visible?
We expand on this more below, but in summary:
- The path of annularity will cross over Canada, Greenland, and Russia.
- Neighboring areas in North America, Europe, and northern Asia.
Is it Worth It to Travel to See Annularity?
You’ve probably noticed we talk a lot about annularity in this post. You might wonder: Is annularity really worth it? Isn’t seeing a partial solar eclipse enough?
While seeing a partial solar eclipse is cool, there are few experiences on earth that compare to experiencing annularity during a solar eclipse.
“What I find most amazing, having studied eclipses throughout history, is that no matter the time period or the scientific knowledge (or lack thereof), human responses to an eclipse are consistently, universally, expressions of awe and wonder, and even fear and terror,” author Steve Ruskin told CNET back in 2017. Ruskin wrote the book on totality, America’s First Great Eclipse, and has studied the impact of totality on human history.
Where to See the Solar Eclipse in Canada, Greenland & Russia
The 2021 Total Solar Eclipse crosses over just three countries: Canada, Greenland, and Russia. In particular, this solar eclipse passes over relatively remote and rural parts of these countries, and no major cities.
While there are no urban areas in the path of annularity, a number of major cities will experience a partial eclipse, including the following. This is the order in which these cities will experience the maximum of the eclipse, and The % represents the maximum coverage of the sun during the partial eclipse:
- Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA – 88%
- Chicago, Illinois, USA – 82%
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – 80%
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada – 80%
- New York City, New York, USA – 72%
- Washington, DC, USA – 72%
- Reykjavik, Iceland – 61%
- Harbin, China – 52%
- Ulaanbaatur, Mongolia – 40%
- Beijing, China – 33%
- Dublin, Ireland – 29%
- London, England – 20%
- Moscow, Russia – 16%
- Brussels, Belgium – 15%
- Paris, England – 13%
Many other smaller cities and towns will also experience the partial solar eclipse on June 10th!
Guided Tours for the 2021 Total Solar Eclipse
It’s too late to book a tour for the June 2021 solar eclipse, but we’ll have plenty to share for the next eclipse, later this year!
Tips for Viewing a Solar Eclipse
With all the preparation it takes to travel for the 2021 solar eclipse, you might not have thought about how to actually view the eclipse! Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered too.
Safety Warning: Protect Your Eyes During the Solar Eclipse!
First and foremost, it’s important to protect your eyes during any solar eclipse, including the 2021 solar eclipse. Throughout the entire duration of the eclipse – including annularity – you will need to wear solar viewing glasses that allow you to view the eclipse in its partial stage without damaging your eyes.
Never look directly at the sun during a partial solar eclipse.
Even looking at the sun with almost 90% coverage (such as what will be visible in Minneapolis, Minnesota during this eclipse) can cause permanent eye damage.
If you need solar eclipse glasses, Amazon has a good selection. Look for those which are ISO approved to ensure you’ll get the proper eye protection:
- Soluna Eclipse Glasses – 10-pack
- Rainbow Symphony Eclipse Glasses – 5-pack
- Celestron EclipSmart Binoculars
Pro-tip: If you are traveling from outside the region, buy and bring your own solar eclipse glasses. They fold down small, and then you know you’ll have a safe pair when it’s time to view the eclipse.
How to Photograph the Solar Eclipse
Similar to your eyes, a camera lens can be damaged by photographing the sun directly. If you plan to shoot photographs during the partial solar eclipse, you’ll need a solar filter for your lens; you can also make one from solar paper and cardboard.
Additionally, you should not look through the viewfinder of your camera without eye protection on. If you have a digital display, you can use this to view your shots.
Other tips for photographing a solar eclipse:
- Be sure to set up and check your settings before you shoot. You may even want to try some solar photography in advance of the eclipse so you have an understanding of the conditions and effect of the solar filter on your shots.
- Conditions change quickly during an eclipse, so you’ll need to have your camera set to manual and adjust throughout the eclipse.
- During the partial eclipse, set your F-stop to between 8 and 16, and your shutter speed between 1/30 to 1/4000. You’ll need to adjust these both as more of the sun is obscured.
- During annularity, you may need change your settings in a matter of moments, but will still need to keep your solar filter on your camera to protect the lens and sensors.
- In all cases, be sure to mount your camera on a tripod to stabilize your photos and get crystal-clear lines between the moon and sun.
In the end, photographing a solar eclipse is partially trial-and-error, so be sure to enjoy the eclipse with your own eyes (through solar eclipse glasses!) too.
When is the Next Solar Eclipse?
Following the total solar eclipse on June 10, 2021, the next solar eclipse will be an annular solar eclipse on December 4, 2021. We’ll update this post with details about that eclipse once the June eclipse has ended!
Have other questions about the 2021 total solar eclipse? Let us know in the comments!
Featured photo credit: NASA Goddard via Flickr