With the Great American Eclipse of 2024 in the rear view mirror, we look ahead to the next three years of solar and lunar eclipses visible from Boston and around the globe.

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Lunar vs Solar Eclipse

A lunar eclipse compared to a solar eclipse

Top left: a lunar eclipse, where the Earth comes between the Sun and Moon.
Lower right: a total solar eclipse, where the moon is perfectly aligned between the Earth and Sun.


ERIC: From the Museum of Science in Boston, this is Pulsar, a podcast where we look ahead to answers to the syzygy-est questions we've ever gotten from our visitors. I'm your host, Eric, and I love eclipses. I got to see my first total solar eclipse on April 8th, 2024, along with a wide swath of North America. But it turns out that this most recent Great American Eclipse was not the end of our chances to see the shadowy dance of the moon and the sun. In fact, you can consider it the beginning. Over the next three years, there are many more spectacular eclipses on the calendar, with opportunities for some rare and awe-inspiring perspectives of our place in space from both here in Boston and around the globe. Joining me to nerd out about objects in space aligning perfectly is Talia from our planetarium team. Talia, thanks once again for inviting me to record a podcast episode under the dome of the Charles Hayden Planetarium.

TALIA: You're very welcome, Eric. And as you say, I'm always excited to nerd out about things lining up in space. And I'm gonna spin things around on you here. I know you're the host, but I'm gonna ask you a question. The last time we spoke, you had not seen an eclipse. And now you have. So, what did you think?

ERIC: It was everything I was expecting, and also so many things that I wasn't expecting. I mean, it was awesome. It was amazing. I finally did it. I've been planning to see one of these two eclipses for 15 years now, when I first read about them. And it was just something else. When we talked last time we did our whole episode of what it's like to experience it and you said, you just have to experience it. You can't really describe it. And I also feel that way. There's no way that you can put it into words. But when you were talking about your lizard brain activating and thinking it was really weird-seeming with the light changing and stuff, I got that too, but I thought you were talking more like in a detached academic, like, oh, look around. It's weird. No, like, it was like I was looking at people around me like, is everybody else feeling like this? And then that feeling didn't go away for like two days, it was very, like, the light changed, like, second to second. Like, oh, the light is brownish-copper. And now wait, it's a little bit yellow. And now it's silvery light. Like it was like the end of the world light.

TALIA: It was funny. I was there with some friends who hadn't really gotten to get the full experience of the eclipse in 2017. And that was what they were focusing on in the moments leading up to totality was how bizarre the light around us looked. And it really is, you know what's happening, but your caveman brain is like, oh, wait, what? Huh?

ERIC: And the whole entire process, the whole entire trip that we took was just chaos from start to finish. I mean, with everybody trying to get to that path of totality, and the waiting. And then when the moon finally blocked out the sun, and you could look at it, there was a little bit of a prominence on the south part of the sun, and I wasn't expecting that. So it was a little bit like, wait, what is that? Is it safe to look at? Like, I'm gonna look at it because I came all this way. But what is that? I didn't know. I was expecting to see the corona come out. But I wasn't expecting to see that extra little bright point.

TALIA: Yeah, nice, bright prominence. What was fun for me, you know, I was in this little parking lot with a bunch of other people. And there was this family that had driven out from Ohio. Now Ohio was in the path. But I was in Maine and Maine had better sky. So they drove out from Ohio. And after the totality was done, I'm talking to the father. And he's like, this is your second Eclipse? I'm like, yeah, and he goes, oh, you've got the bug now, huh? You're going to become one of these people who chases down eclipses? And I was like, well, you know, if an eclipse happens to be happening somewhere I want to go, like, you know, there's one going to be happening in, like, Spain. And he goes, wait, there's going to be one happening in Spain? And I was like, do you have the bug? And he's like, yes. I think I do.

ERIC: I think it's a pretty common thing. But book your trips now, because it was hard to get to Vermont from here. It was also really hard to get back.


ERIC: We hung out at the playground where we were and we just waited and I was like, it's been two hours. The traffic won't be as bad. It was bad. It was bad. I had some people telling me that it took nine, eleven, more hours to get 60 or 80 or 100 miles home.

TALIA: I had friends who took 12 hours to get from Burlington, Vermont to Boston and there was one seven-hour stretch where they only covered 40 miles.

ERIC: I would say that there's few things in the universe that would be worth sitting in that traffic jam but the total eclipse, I think it was worth it. I don't regret it. So we told people before this that this was rare. That total solar eclipses are a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We were encouraging people, if they at all could, get to that path of totality, try to dodge the clouds, try to see it. And that's sort of true and sort of not true. So can you talk about how this was both super rare and also eclipses happen all the time.

TALIA: Eclipses do happen all the time. You know, there's a total solar eclipse somewhere on the earth, something like every 12 to 18 months. What's rare is for them to happen over any particular spot on earth. And it was rare in this case that it happened over such a hugely populated swath, where it was pretty easy for large numbers of people to get into the path of totality. That's frequently not the case, you know, the path is going mostly over the ocean, or it's over the Arctic, or places that are not going to be easy to view, which is why this one was kind of rare. And also, you know, as amazing as it is, a lot of people are not necessarily going to do a lot of traveling to try and get to other eclipses. If you are willing to travel, you can see many eclipses in a lifetime. But for most of us, that's probably not going to be what we're doing, which is why this was such a great, unique opportunity to be able to see a total solar eclipse without having to make huge travel plans.

ERIC: Yeah, we had to, I mean, I call them back to back, they were almost seven years apart here in the United States, in the lower 48 states. We had the big one in 2017 and 2024. Before that, we didn't have one in those lower 48 states since 1979. So that was a really big gap. And then there's another really big gap. It's not quite that 38 years, leading up to 2017. But there's not another one in the United States in the lower part until 2044. So 20 years, and that one's barely going to clip the lower 48, really. That one, if it's 2044, you gotta go to the Dakotas or Montana. So I'm interested to see how crowded that will be from everybody that doesn't want to cross the border, but will be trying to cram into nowhere, out of the middle of the wilderness there. That's gonna be an interesting total solar eclipse.

TALIA: Absolutely.

ERIC: And then just the year after we get another Great American Eclipse.

TALIA: Yeah.

ERIC: Not great for us in Boston, because it comes into California, it kind of goes straight across to Kansas, and then peels down towards Florida.

TALIA: Yeah, but that one's the Disney World Eclipse.

ERIC: That's right!

TALIA: Because it's gonna go right over Disney World.

ERIC: 2045 is too long to wait. Just between now and the end of 2026, so not even the next three years, there's eight more eclipses coming up. Not every one of them is viewable from here in New England, but many of them are. So we're gonna go through them and talk about which ones are coming up and which ones you should put on your calendar.

TALIA: Well, and we've also been talking at this point purely about solar eclipses, we should remind people that there is another kind of eclipse, a lunar eclipse, which is generally easier to see because half the earth can see it at any given time.

ERIC: Yeah, so that's the next one coming up. We've got one in September of 2024. So can you talk about what happens there? The solar eclipse we heard about exhaustively, when the moon comes between us and the sun, and we're in the shadow. What's the difference between that and a lunar eclipse?

TALIA: So a lunar eclipse, the moon is moving into earth's shadow. So it happens at full moon because that is when the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun. And basically, because earth's shadow is much bigger than the moon, the entire moon moves into it. Sometimes that's when you get a total lunar eclipse. Other times you get a partial or other sort of variations on it. But it is the moon moving through earth's shadow as opposed to the solar eclipse, which is the moon's shadow covering part of the earth. In this case, earth's shadow is covering the moon.

ERIC: I like these because you don't have to drive and sit in traffic to see it. If you're on the, literally, the proper side of the earth, you should be able to look up and see it at some point. So they're a little bit more universal, a lot more people can experience them without needing any special equipment, either. You can look at a lunar eclipse, you just look up at it. You don't need glasses, you don't need anything.

TALIA: That said, um, I'm not super excited for this one that's coming up in September.

ERIC: I'm gonna give it a lower rating on the Eclipse Awesomeness Scale. It is a partial lunar eclipse, which means the moon will pass kind of into the earth's shadow and only a little bit into the darkest part. And you won't get anything really spectacular.

TALIA: Yeah, I'm not personally going to make a huge effort. I mean, if I'm out that night, I'm going to look up because I do that.

ERIC: But it's not the middle of the night. It's 10:45pm. So people might still be awake, might be able to go out and see it. From North America, from Europe, from Africa. From here in Boston, it's 10:45pm. You might notice that part of the moon looks a little bit darker.

TALIA: [Dismissive Groan]

ERIC: The full moon is really bright and recognizable. It's much brighter than any other phase of the moon. So it's interesting, but I'm probably not going to hype it up too much because you never want to over-promise and oversell something that ends up being kind of a dud.

TALIA: Well, and you know, we have less than a year now if we want to wait for a really amazing lunar eclipse. We have less than a year to wait.

ERIC: Yeah, there's a total lunar eclipse next March. A Pi Day Eclipse!


ERIC: So that's a Thursday-Friday night. It is pretty late. So the whole thing doesn't start until about midnight on that Thursday night, but we get totality. So we get the moon going all the way through the darkest part of that shadow.

TALIA: And a total lunar eclipse, if you've never seen them before, of course, if you've been in Boston for a while, you might remember, very notably, the night the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years, there was a total lunar eclipse. It turns the moon red, which is really, really cool, really awesome. And you get to see the dark part of the shadow moving across the moon. It's really fun, I like to just sit and watch the shadow progress. And then during totality, which doesn't last for a couple of minutes the way it does with a solar eclipse, it lasts for hours. Because the earth's shadow is big, and the moon is small, it's red. And that's because, essentially the only sunlight that is reaching the surface of the moon is like sunset and sunrise like coming around the very edge of the earth. So there is sunlight reaching the moon, but it's the red stuff that we see at sunrise and sunset. And it just looks so cool.

ERIC: Yeah, to look up and see suddenly the moon, I mean, we see kind of that yellow or orange tint, sometimes really red, if you get that moon really low, because of those kind of same atmospheric effects of that light getting filtered out by different color. But to see it up high in the sky, turn that red color, super weird.

TALIA: I love it. I'm very excited for that one.

ERIC: I'm gonna set an alarm. This one is middle of the night. So it's 2:30am to 3:30am, we'll get that totality. Take Friday off or work from home and get a little bit of an extra nap. You should be able to see it from most of North America, the western part of South America. But yeah, that one's exciting coming up. There's one in there that we missed, because we're not going to be able to see it from here in Boston. There is an annular solar eclipse on October 2nd of this year. That one's not gonna be too much in the news, because it's mostly over the ocean. Parts of Hawaii will get a partial eclipse. And then not totality but annularity will pass over the very southern part of Chile and Argentina. So can you talk about what an annular eclipse is?

TALIA: Yes, so an annular eclipse is the same kind of geometry as a total solar eclipse. It is the moon moving between the sun and the earth. However, because the moon's orbit isn't a perfect circle, there are times where it is a little closer to earth, and there are times when it is a little farther away. And if that solar eclipse geometry happens when the moon is at the point in its orbit where it's a little bit farther away, it's actually because being farther away, it looks a little smaller in the sky, it's not big enough to fully cover the disk of the sun. So when the moon is fully in front of the sun, there's actually a ring of sun still visible around it, which means there is no totality. There is no, you know, moment where it's safe to look up without eye protection. However, it is a kind of a cool thing on its own. Because the sun looks like a ring around the moon, they call it the Ring of Fire.

ERIC: You need those eclipse glasses to still look at it. But it's definitely unique. I don't know if I'm going to travel all the way down to the southern tip of South America to see it. But it's something different. And it kind of goes to show how you need exactly the right conditions for these eclipses. The lunar eclipse happens with the shadow being pretty big, but the the moon coming really right between the earth and the sun, you need it to be in the exact right spot of so many parts of its orbit, you needed to be not too high, not too low. You needed to be not too far. But everything needs to line up exactly perfectly to get that totality.

TALIA: It really goes to show how lucky we are on earth, that we get to experience that kind of eclipse. There's certainly nowhere else in our solar system that experience eclipses the way earth does.

ERIC: The one that may be my favorite on the list, the one that's coming up, pairs with the total lunar eclipse for next March is the end of March 2025. On Saturday, March 29th, in the morning, here in Boston, we get a partial solar eclipse at sunrise, this is going to be awesome.

TALIA: I know you're really really psyched for this one.

ERIC: It's 6:30 in the morning, yeah, but when the sun rises, it is going to be more than 50% eclipsed. So we'll never get that totality, we won't have that amazing darkness suddenly. But you'll get a crescent sun rising in the east. And from Boston, we're perfectly placed because we have the ocean to our east. So any east-facing beach, you should be able to get this really awesome view of just, like, a big horn of the sun coming up and rising and then it keeps going up. And it's a crescent, in a shape that the moon isn't because it's not just a little sliver, it's a large disk with a bite taken out of it. This is gonna be cool.

TALIA: Oh, I do absolutely want to see this eclipse. And I'm really also looking forward to - there's going to be some really amazing pictures that are going to come out of this eclipse that I am going to be excited to see.

ERIC: Yeah, I don't think it will be as crowded or trafficky because it is 6:30 in the morning and it's not as spectacular.

TALIA: 6:30 in the morning. It's a partial eclipse.

ERIC: I think there's gonna be pockets of people on beaches all around the Massachusetts Bay kind of gathering together and looking at it and taking some pictures. But it shouldn't be too bad to get to or to get home from. So this one's going to be a partial solar eclipse for the northeast of North America. And then the northwest of Africa and for much of Europe. There won't be totality anywhere because the geometry just isn't right, there's no part where it's completely blocked off. And then the next one after that is a total lunar eclipse, I have written my notes, 'Total Lunar Eclipse...not you Western Hemisphere', because this one is September 7th, 2025. It will be visible for much of Asia and Australia. But we're just on the wrong side of the earth at the time to see it at all.

TALIA: It happens.

ERIC: So here in North America, we miss that one. But it's not even the next one. And they come up pretty often. So I'm not that sad about missing it. Hopefully, if you do live in those areas, you get to see that one if you missed the previous one, because the geometry wasn't right for you. And then there's, this one's kind of my favorite one on the list, the Antarctica partial solar eclipse on February 17th, 2026. Because looking at the sheer amount of people for this last Great American Eclipse that were in the path of totality, it was like tens of millions. The number of people who experienced at least a partial eclipse was enormous. It was hundreds of millions. And this eclipse, there's not going to be any totality, but the number of people who will even experience a partial eclipse is dozens.

TALIA: Yeah.

ERIC: From the best I can tell, it passes over Concordia Station in Antarctica, which is a French-Italian outpost. And in the summer, which it is the Antarctic summer in February, their staff is about 70. So I think it's cool to see a total eclipse, I think it's cool to see a lunar totality. I think it'd be really cool to be one of the only humans on the planet to experience something like a partial eclipse.

TALIA: It's just you and the penguins.

ERIC: Yeah.

TALIA: So I know you really love, you know, fun space vocabulary. And I know for this next eclipse, you learned a whole new word, because I was there when you were telling me about it. And you were very, very excited about this.

ERIC: Yeah. So coming up on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2026, we have a total lunar eclipse that's going to be visible from parts of North America, South America, Australia, most of Asia. And we, from here in Boston have a unique chance for a selenelion.

TALIA: Selenelion, it's a fun word to say.

ERIC: And that is when you can see the totally eclipsed red moon and the sun in your sky at the same time.

TALIA: Which should not technically be possible.

ERIC: Geometrically, it doesn't work out. If you're standing on the earth, you can't see the sun and the moon, if all three are in a straight line. They're both below your horizon. But we have an atmosphere.

TALIA: We do have an atmosphere, and that atmosphere bends light the way a lens is doing a telescope. And it means sometimes you can actually see the sun or the moon when they are physically below the horizon. But the atmosphere is refracting the light in such a way that they're visible to you.

ERIC: So it's the same effect as if you're looking at, like, a dive toy at the bottom of a pool. And you have zoned in on it. And then when you dive into the pool, it's in a different spot. Because the light coming from that toy, when it hits the water-air boundary, the light bends and it changes its path. So it looks like it's in a spot where it isn't really. And that happens with the sun at every sunrise and sunset. It's not actually in that spot. If you just took a spaceship and you blasted straight towards the sun, in that moment, it wouldn't be there, it's actually a little bit lower. So you can stand on a mountaintop, or, I'm hoping, a really tall building. And you can see the sun coming up and the moon going down in a total eclipse. And this is so rare that there's not even that many great pictures or videos of it. It's supposed to be something where you need a perfect sky both to the east and to the west, you need great weather, you need to be able to actually take a picture of it, which most people don't have a camera that can pick up the faint, you know, the moon that's going all the way down to the horizon. But I really want to go and check it out. I want to try, at least.

TALIA: I mean, it does, it is a very unique opportunity.

ERIC: And then finally, the last one we'll cover today, at the end of 2026. So Wednesday, August 12h, 2026. There is a total solar eclipse, the totality passes from the northern part of the earth through Greenland, Iceland, Spain, a little bit of Portugal, and then just a very bit of the tip of the northern part of Africa. For us here in Boston, we're only going to get about 27% of an eclipse. But it's the mid-afternoon. It's an August day, we'll be busy here at the museum. And the timing is perfect. I mean, we're always complaining that like NASA doesn't ask us when they're going to launch spaceships and rovers to Mars because they scheduled them at times where we can't share it with people because it's like two in the morning or before the museum opens or late at night. But this is one where it's just the middle of the afternoon. And you can go out and you can see the moon pass a little bit in front of the sun.

TALIA: Yeah. And this is the one if, you know, I think this is going to be the next crowded eclipse because it does go over parts of the world that are relatively easy for people to get to. And I think, you know, if you're not going to want to travel to totality, you can just stay in the Boston area and enjoy a partial eclipse instead and not have to deal with the crowds.

ERIC: Yeah. And if you are interested in catching that next great totality, book your trip to Spain right now. I guarantee you, whenever you're listening to this, they're already starting to book hotels and plane trips, and it's gonna get difficult to travel there. So that's the next one coming up. Those are the next ones coming in the next couple of years. We'll be back in 2027 to give you the update on the ones coming after that. I wanted to end with a thought that I had when I was putting this together, which is that pretty soon with the Artemis program that NASA has to get astronauts back to the moon in a more permanent way, we could be seeing some of the last eclipses that don't include a human on the moon as part of them.

TALIA: I have always wanted to see, you know, I've seen artist's renditions. But there's never been a photo taken from the surface of the moon during a total lunar eclipse, with the sun completely blocked by the earth, except for that that light coming around the edge of the earth. I want to see that so badly.

ERIC: That must be the most, I mean, we talked about how weird totality was of a total solar eclipse the beginning of the show. To stand on the moon and get this eerie red light and to look up at the earth blocking the sun. And see... I don't even know what it would look like.

TALIA: I really want to see what that looks like. And maybe we are entering into the the period of human history where we're actually gonna be able to see that.

ERIC: Yeah, and that will be experienced every time. Like, we we used to have eclipses happen on the earth all the time over Antarctica where no one would see because no one had ever been there. And now it's probably impossible for any solar eclipse on the earth to pass over a place where absolutely no one will see it.

TALIA: Oh, Eclipse chasers will get to an eclipse no matter where it is.

ERIC: But yeah, it's going to be interesting to think that when we see the moon block out the light from the sun, there's humans up there on the moon. And when we look at the moon passing into the earth's shadow and turning red, there's people up there enjoying it. And that might be the case, like, from here on out, starting in three or four more years.

TALIA: Well, we'll have to see but I'm really, really excited for the future.

ERIC: Alright, Talia, thanks for nerding out with me about all the upcoming eclipses.

TALIA: Oh, it was a great pleasure. You know how much I love to nerd out about space.

ERIC: As these eclipses get closer on the calendar, visit mos.org/eclipse And be sure to sign up for Talia's Spacing Out newsletter for more detailed information. And when you get awesome pictures and videos of these eclipses, tag the Museum of Science on social media. Until next time, keep asking questions.

If you liked this episode, be sure to check out:

What Is It Like to Experience a Total Solar Eclipse?

What is it Like to Look Down at the Earth from Space?

Does the Moon Rotate?


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