What Is a Solar Eclipse?

What Is a Solar Eclipse
A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, so part of the Earth is in the Moon’s shadow.

A solar eclipse is an event that occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, blocking sunlight over a small part of the Earth.

  • During a solar eclipse, part of the Earth is within the Moon’s shadow.
  • Solar eclipses only happen during the new moon phase.
  • Total solar eclipses occur when the Sun and Moon are the same size in the sky.
  • Usually, there are two solar eclipses per year. But total solar eclipses are less common.
  • The Moon is moving further away from the Earth, so total eclipses become less common over time and will eventually stop (in the distant future).

Types of Solar Eclipses

The three types of solar eclipses are partial, annular, and total. A hybrid eclipse occurs when the eclipse is total across part of its viewing area and annular in another part.

  • Partial Solar Eclipse: During a partial solar eclipse, the Moon only blocks a crescent of the Sun. Here, the lunar orbit only incompletely crosses the Sun.
  • Annular Solar Eclipse: In an annular solar eclipse, the Moon is centered over the Sub, but is too far from the Earth (near apogee) to completely block. Alternatively, the Sun is large because it is close to the Earth (aphelion). This eclipse appears as an annulus or ring of Sun around a dark Moon.
  • Total Solar Eclipse: During a total solar eclipse, the Moon completely blocks the solar disc or photosphere. But, the sky is not dark because the solar corona is visible. On the edge of the path of totality (and within it, before the Moon blocks the Sun), a partial eclipse occurs. Total solar eclipses occur when the Moon is near perigee.
  • Hybrid Eclipse: Due to the curvature of the Earth, part of the eclipse path experiences an annular eclipse, while part experiences a total eclipse.
Types of Solar Eclipses
The three main types of solar eclipses are partial, annular, and total eclipses.

How Often Does a Solar Eclipse Occur?

Most years, there are two solar eclipses that are about half a year apart. However, the maximum number of solar eclipses in a year is five! Five eclipses in a year is a rare event that has only happened 25 times in the last 2000 years. The last year with five solar eclipses was 1935, while the next year is 2206.

On average, a total solar eclipse occurs about every 18 months. But, some years have two total eclipses, others have one total eclipse, and others have none.

When Is the Next Solar Eclipse?

Here are the dates of upcoming solar eclipses, their type, and where they will be visible.

DateEclipse TypeVisibility
April 20, 2023HybridAntarctica, Australia, Southeast Asia
October 14, 2023AnnularNorth, Central, and South America
April 8, 2024TotalNorth America
October 2, 2024AnnularSouth America, Antarctica
March 29, 2025PartialNorth America, Russia
September 21, 2025PartialMadagascar, Antarctica
February 17, 2026AnnularAntarctica
August 12, 2026TotalArctic, Greenland, Iceland, Spain
February 6, 2027AnnularSouth America
August 2, 2027TotalMorocco, Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia
January 26, 2028AnnularSouth America
July 22, 2028TotalAustralia, New Zealand
January 14, 2029PartialNorth America, Greenland
July 11, 2029PartialSouth America, Antarctica


  • Espenak, Fred (2015). Thousand Year Canon of Solar Eclipses 1501 to 2500. Portal AZ: Astropixels Publishing. ISBN 978-1-941983-02-7.
  • Harrington, Philip S. (1997). Eclipse! The What, Where, When, Why and How Guide to Watching Solar and Lunar Eclipses. New York: John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0-471-12795-7.
  • Mobberley, Martin (2007). Total Solar Eclipses and How to Observe Them. Astronomers’ Observing Guides. New York: Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-69827-4.
  • Stephenson, F. Richard (1997). Historical Eclipses and Earth’s Rotation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-46194-4. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511525186