4 Things to Know About the 2017 Solar Eclipse

What is a total solar eclipse?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers the face of the Sun as seen from Earth. The complete coverage allows us to see the day as if it were night, and it reveals the solar corona's ghostly whisps. The next total solar eclipse will occur on August 21, 2016, and the eclipse path will cross the continental United States.

Start planning now for the 2017 total solar eclipse: enter your email to download your FREE guide to watching the eclipse from locations across the continental U.S. You'll also be subscribed to Sky & Telescope's free e-newsletter that will keep you up to date with the latest astronomy and observing news.

North American viewers off the eclipse path will still see a partial solar eclipse.

Read more about viewing the Sun safely.

When is the next solar eclipse going to happen?

The eclipse beings on August 21, 2017, at 16:48:33 Universal Time (UT), when the shadow touches down on the Pacific Ocean and the Moon takes its first small bite out of the Sun. Totality begins at 18:24:11.9 UT.

To find the precise start and end times calculated for your location, as well as eclipse maps and other tables, visit NASA's Eclipse website.

Where's the best place to watch the eclipse?

The best location to watch the total eclipse will along the eclipse path that crosses the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. This total eclipse is on the shorter side, with a maximum duration of 2 minutes and 40.1 seconds. Canada, Mexico, and continental America off the path of totality will see a partial solar eclipse.

When's the next solar eclipse?

The next total solar eclipse will occur on June 2, 2019, when the eclipse path will fall largely over the Pacific Ocean. Some viewers on land in Chile and Argentina will spot totality at sunset. Find more information at NASA's eclipse site.