Working Group on Solar Eclipses

The tasks of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Solar Eclipses include:

a) Working with the general public, providing materials and links to explain why eclipses are interesting to watch, how to observe them safely, and what science is being studied; and
b) Working with professional astronomers from around the world, to help coordinate their expeditions to total solar eclipses, including helping them work with customs in various countries about the temporary importation of scientific equipment.


An on-line version of a 21st-century eclipse globe from a colleague of Michael Zeiler’s at his former company ESRI: a new visualization. There is a slider bar on bottom that lets you traverse any 10-year span from 1650 to 2150 and displays the eclipse tracks on an interactive globe. The eclipse paths were generated from Xavier Jubier’s Solar Eclipse Maestro.

Check out: https://geoxc-apps2.bd.esri.com/Visualization/solar3d/index.html

Also, Michael Zeiler (GreatAmericanEclipse.com) and Fred Espenak have created a series of eclipse animations – one for every solar eclipse during the 21st Century (that’s 224 eclipses).

The animations show the path of the Moon’s shadows as they sweep across a global map of Earth (an orthographic projection). The vantage point of the animations is as seen from the Moon. The daylight hemisphere of Earth then faces the Moon and the lunar shadows appear perfectly circular with no distorted projection effects as they race across Earth. Another consequence of this viewing geometry is that the Moon’s shadows move across Earth’s disk in a straight line.

For all eclipses, the Moon’s large, pale penumbral shadow appears as a lightly shaded circle and is outlined with a solid black edge. For Total, Annular, and Hybrid eclipses, the Moon’s much smaller inner shadow (either umbra or antumbral) appears as a tiny black disk and tracks along the path of totality or annularity (yellow strip). A partial eclipse is visible from within the penumbra, while a total or annular eclipse is visible inside the umbra or antumbra.

Each animation includes important information in the four corners. In the upper left corner is the type of eclipse and the eclipse date. To the upper right is the Universal Time. The lower left corner displays the instantaneous duration of totality or annularity (not used for partial eclipses). To the lower right is the credit for the animation.

Inspired by A. T. Sinclair’s original animations from two decades ago, the new animations are available in three sizes/resolutions: small (300 x 300 pixels), medium (400 x 400 pixels), and large (800 x 800 pixels).

Michael Zeiler and Fred Espenak created these animations to freely use and share with the eclipse community and the media.

They may be used and distributed through Creative Commons (use without modifications and including an attribution: “Global Eclipse Animation courtesy of Michael Zeiler (GreatAmericanEclipse.com) and Fred Espenak (EclipseWise.com)”).

The following EclipseWise web page is an index with links to all 224 eclipse animations in each of three sizes/resolutions. They can be downloaded here and saved:

http://eclipsewise.com/solar/SEdecade/SEanimate2001.html

At GreatAmericanEclipse.com you can find the animations here:

https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/solar-eclipses-of-the-21st-century


Most Recent Total Solar Eclipse – Saturday, December 4, 2021

Previous Total Solar Eclipse- Monday, December 14, 2020

Most Recent Annular Solar Eclipses—2020 and 2021

Astronomy Magazine article for the June 2021 annular eclipse

How to View a Solar Eclipse Safely

Future Eclipses

2020 Eclipses

2019 Eclipses

August 21, 2017, Eclipse

Basic Eclipse Materials

Previous Eclipses

Reference Materials

Eye Safety and Solar Filters

Sources of Partial-Eclipse-Viewing Filters

Eclipse Resources: Science, Observing, History