Eclipses

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks out the sun. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon moves into the Earth’s shadow.

A telescope at the Griffith Observatory.

Solar Eclipses

Solar Eclipse Diagram

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks out the sun. Unlike lunar eclipses that occur only during full moons, a solar eclipse can only occur during a new moon. Notice in the diagram how the moon’s shadow projected on the Earth is quite small. This means that solar eclipses are visible from only a small area on Earth. Solar eclipses also happen about twice a year on average. During totality, stars and planets become visible due to the darkness of the sky without the sun’s light. Total solar eclipses are also a rare opportunity to glimpse the thin solar corona; a wispy veil of ultra-hot plasma that surrounds our star. Learn more from NASA’s Solar Eclipse page.

Solar Eclipse of October 14, 2023

The eclipse is annular from Oregon to southern Texas.

Eclipse starts: 8:07 a.m., PDT
Maximum eclipse: 9:24 a.m., PDT (Moon covers 78% of sun’s diameter, 71% of sun’s area).
Eclipse ends: 10:49 a.m., PDT

Solar Eclipse of April 8, 2024

The path of totality crosses a swath through Mexico, then across the eastern half of the U.S. (from Texas to Maine) and into Canada (Nova Scotia).

Eclipse starts: 10:06 a.m., PDT
Maximum eclipse: 11:12 a.m., PDT (Moon covers 57% of sun’s diameter, 49% of sun’s area).
Eclipse ends: 12:21 p.m., PDT

Lunar Eclipses

Lunar Eclipse Diagram

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon moves into the Earth’s shadow. This can only happen when the moon is full, but does not happen on every full moon. Lunar eclipses are famous for turning the moon and blood-red color at and near totality. This is due to the Earth’s atmosphere acting as a lens and preferentially directing red and orange light onto the lunar surface. Lunar eclipses happen twice a year on average and are usually visible to much larger swaths of Earth than solar eclipses. In fact, favorable alignments can make Lunar Eclipses visible for up to half of the globe. Learn more on NASA’s Lunar Eclipse page.

Lunar Eclipse of May 26, 2021

Early morning total eclipse. Moon is 16 degrees high when totality starts at 4:11 a.m., PDT. Learn more.

 

Lunar Eclipse of November 18-19, 2021

Late night deep partial eclipse. Moon is 74 degrees high when partial starts at 11:19 p.m., PST. Learn more.