Total Solar


Monday, August 21, 2017

In 2017, the USA experienced a total solar eclipse for the first time since February of 1979. The Moon did not completely block the Sun in New England, but we were able to experience a partial eclipse. Scroll along this page to see how the Sun and Moon look during a total eclipse, and for tips on safely viewing the Sun from Boston. The next great solar eclipse visible from the United States will be in April of 2024.

During a total solar eclipse, the Moon completely blocks the Sun from view, turning day into deep twilight for those in the deepest part of the Moon's shadow.

Outside of this path, a partial eclipse will be seen, in which only part of the Sun’s disk is blocked.

Solar eclipses were widely feared in ancient cultures, but there is nothing to be afraid of (if you follow the Safety Tips on this page).

The Sun, Moon and Earth must align perfectly, so that the Moon casts its shadow on a portion of the Earth. Normally, this alignment is not exact, so we do not have eclipses at every new or full moon.

If you travel to see an eclipse, get as close to the center of the track as possible for the longest total eclipse, and keep an eye on the weather.

The next total solar eclipse for the USA will occur on April 8, 2024 on a path from Texas to Maine.

Safety Tips

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  • 1

    NEVER look at the Sun when any portion of its bright disk is visible without proper eye protection — or permanent loss of vision will result! This applies during the entire partial eclipse!

  • 2

    Only use approved eclipse glasses or solar filters to view the Sun; materials such as sunglasses, photographic film, polarizing filters or aluminized plastic are unsafe for solar viewing.

  • 3

    Use a solar filter that mounts snugly on the large end of a telescope, not at the eyepiece where it can crack under the intense heat.

  • 4

    A safe way of viewing the eclipse, especially for groups, is the projection method shown in the video below.

  • 5

    Do not use ordinary binoculars; there is no way to safely install a filter on them.

  • 6

    New England will not experience totality; therefore, these safety precautions must be strictly observed at all times.