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’s a solar eclipse coming up on October 14, 2023.
If you’re curious about the next solar eclipse, this post has everything you need to know. I 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 2023 annular solar eclipse!
Are you ready to plan your next solar eclipse experience? Dive into this post!
This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated most recently in June 2023.
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 a annular solar eclipse, where the moon passes between the sun and earth but doesn’t completely block the light, the moon will cover the sun in an o-shape. This is in contrast to a total solar eclipse is an eclipse where the sun is completely blocked by the moon, or a partial eclipse, where only part of the sun is obscured (like a cookie with a bite taken out):
This next eclipse is an annular eclipse; learn more about the types of solar eclipses if you’re curious.
What Happens During an Annular Solar Eclipse?
During an annular solar eclipse, the sun is not entirely obscured by the moon; these eclipses are called “ring of fire” eclipses, because the sun will appear as a ring in the sky around the moon.
Important Details of the Solar Eclipse in 2023
Curious when and where the 2023 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 annular solar eclipse will occur on October 14, 2023 from 15:03 UTC to 20:55 UTC. The maximum of the eclipse will occur at 17:59 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. As you’ll see, this eclipse is actually barely visible on any part of the earth that’s inhabited – which means that most of us won’t see any annular/partial eclipse – unless you have already planned ahead!
Where will the Total Solar Eclipse Be Visible?
In summary: the October 14, 2023 annular eclipse is visible across almost all of North and South America, as well as parts of Greenland and the far western coast of Africa. The path of dark orange on the map above shows the path of annularity; all of the rest of the highlighted map will experience a partial solar eclipse.
As there is no point during this eclipse where the sun is fully blocked by the moon, you’ll need to wear eclipse glasses to protect your eyes no matter where you’re viewing from.
I have put together a few additional guides for this eclipse that will help you understand which parts of the U.S. are in the path of annularity:
- Which U.S. States are in the Path of the 2023 Solar Eclipse?
- 7 National Parks in the Path of the 2023 Solar Eclipse
- 5 Big U.S. Cities in the Path of the 2023 Solar Eclipse
Tips for Viewing a Solar Eclipse
With all the preparation it takes to see the October 2023 annular 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 2023 solar eclipse. Throughout the entire duration of the eclipse, you will need to wear solar viewing glasses that allow you to view the eclipse in its annular or partial stage without damaging your eyes.
Never look directly at the sun during a partial or annular solar eclipse.
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 annular 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 annular 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 (After this Oen)?
After the annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023, the next solar eclipse will be a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. The 2024 eclipse will be a total solar eclipse visible across North America. I’ll update this post with details about that eclipse once the October eclipse has ended!
Have other questions about the next solar eclipse in 2023? Let me know in the comments!