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.
In 2020, there will be another solar eclipse visible on earth – an annular eclipse, also called a “ring of fire” eclipse. If you’re curious about the next solar eclipse, this post has everything you need to know. We cover the basics of eclipses, why you should travel to see the solar eclipse in 2020, 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 2020 eclipse!
Are you ready to plan your next experience with annularity? Dive into this post!
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:
What Happens During an Annular Solar Eclipse?
During an annular solar eclipse, the sun is almost entirely obscured by the moon, except for a circle of light around the moon. This means that during annularity, the sun is completely darkened, and the sky goes dark as well. Imagine sunset, dusk, and sunrise all occurring in less than five minutes… meanwhile the sun is a great fiery ring in the sky. That’s what annularity is like during an annular eclipse.
Important Details of the Solar Eclipse in 2020
Curious when and where the 2020 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 Annular Solar Eclipse Occur in 2020?
The total solar eclipse will occur on June 21, 2020 from 3:45 pm UTC to 9:34 pm UTC. The maximum of the eclipse will occur at 6:40 pm 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.
Where the total solar eclipse is visible from land, annularity will last between roughly 30 seconds and 1 minute, 22 seconds at its greatest duration.
Days Until the Solar Eclipse 2020:[tminus t= “06-21-2020 3:54:00″ omitweeks=”true” style=”TIE-fighter”] The solar eclipse has passed![/tminus]
Is it Worth It to Travel to See Annularity?
You’ve probably noticed we talk a lot about totality and annularity. 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 anularity 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.
Seeing the 2020 Solar Eclipse in Africa
The largest African city in the path of annularity is Impfondo, Congo. Impfondo is home to roughly 40,000 people, and it is located on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo; it will be quite a journey to get there! Impfondo is also the largest place to visit near the greatest duration of annularity across the entire eclipse path.
Obo, Central African Republic and Lalibela, Ethiopia are two other, smaller cities on the path of annularity. Other major cities in Africa will experience a partial solar eclipse:
- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – 89%
- Djibouti, Djibouti – 89%
- Khartoum, Sudan – 75%
If you want to book a tour to see the 2020 annular eclipse in Africa, here are a few we found:
- TravelQuest is offering a 17-day tour to see the Wonders of Ethiopia that includes annularity. (June 7-23)
- Betchart Expeditions will run a 15-day tour in Ethiopia that also includes annularity. (June 9-23)
Seeing the 2020 Solar Eclipse in the Middle East
In the Middle East, the path of annularity doesn’t pass over any major cities. If you’re traveling in the region, it’s certainly possible to travel from a city to the path of annularity, so it makes more sense to plan a trip to one of these cities and then make a day tour to annularity on June 21st.
These major cities in the Middle East will experience a partial solar eclipse:
- Sana, Yemen – 97%
- Muscat, Oman – 97%
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 86%
- Doha, Qatar – 80%
If you want to book a tour to see the 2020 annular eclipse in the Middle East, here are a few we found:
- Ring of Fire Expeditions is offering a six-day tour through Oman that includes annularity. (June 17-23)
- Astro Trails is also offering a six-day tour in Oman, with annularity on the penultimate morning. (June 16-22)
Seeing the 2020 Solar Eclipse in Asia
The largest Asian city in the path of annularity is Xiamen, China, home to 4.1 million people. Sukkur, Pakistan is another large city in the path of totality, with a population of 2.7 million people. Either of these cities are good options if you’re planning to travel for the annular solar eclipse.
Other major cities in Asia will experience a partial solar eclipse:
- New Delhi, India – 93%
- Karachi, Pakistan – 91%
- Lahore, Pakistan – 91%
- Taipei, Taiwan – 91%
- Kathmandu, Nepal – 86%
- Hong Kong, Hong Kong – 85%
- Islamabad, Pakistan – 82%
If you want to book a tour to see the 2020 annular eclipse in Asia, here are a few we found:
- Astro Trails is offering a 16-day tour across India, including annularity on Day 12 of the itinerary. (June 10-25)
- Betchart Expeditions is offering a 14-day tour in Tibet and China to experience the annular solar eclipse. (June 10-23)
- A Classic Tours has a 9-day tour to Tibet and China which includes annularity. (June 15-23)
Tips for Traveling to See the Solar Eclipse in 2020
Here are some quick tips if you plan to travel independently to see the solar eclipse in 2020:
1. Book NOW
If you are planning to travel for the eclipse, especially in the path of totality, flights, hotels, and car rentals will only get more expensive.
2. Give Yourself Extra Travel Time
Given the popularity of the 2017 solar eclipse in the U.S., travelers are increasingly willing to devote time and energy to see a solar eclipse. Arrive early in each place you visit and give yourself extra transit time.
3. Pack for Warm Weather
As the 2020 annular solar eclipse takes place on the June solstice (June 21, 2020), you can expect some warm weather no matter where you choose to view the eclipse. Temperatures may be as high as 90°F-100°F (32°C-38°C) depending on where you view annularity – or even hotter in some parts of the East Africa and the Middle East!
4. Spend Extra Time Exploring Your Destination
You’re traveling all the way to see a solar eclipse – but you’ll also be spending at least a few days in a fascinating destination before and after annularity. You might book a gorilla trekking tour in Central Africa, spend time exploring East African culture and food in Ethiopia, do some major shopping in the U.A.E, or city-hop across India, just for some inspiration!
Tips for Viewing the Solar Eclipse in 2020
With all the preparation it takes to travel for the 2020 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 2020 solar eclipse. Throughout the entire duration of the eclipse, with the exception of totality, 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.
During totality, it is safe to look at the sun without eye protection, but it’s important to look for signals that totality has begun/ended. Look for Bailey’s Beads (small beads of bright white light from the sun’s corona) or the “Diamond Ring” effect (a bright flash of light), both of which can occur right at the moment totality begins and ends.
Even looking at the sun with 99% coverage (such as what will be visible in Buenos Aires) 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 for $9.99
- NASA Approved Plastic Eclipse Glasses w/ Case – 3-pack for $13.95
- Rainbow Symphony Eclipse Glasses – 5-pack for $9.95
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 good pair when it’s time to view the eclipse.
How to Photograph the Solar Eclipse 2020
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 totality, you’ll change from daytime settings to dusk/nighttime settings in a matter of moments. Similar to with your eyes, you can remove your solar filter during totality and shoot without the filter, but be sure to reduce your F-stop and decrease your shutter speed.
- 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 21, 2020, the next solar eclipse will be a total solar eclipse on December 14, 2020. We’ll update this post with details about that eclipse once the June eclipse has ended!
If you have other questions about the 2020 annular solar eclipse, let us know in the comments!
Featured photo credit: NASA via Flickr