So just when do eclipses occur? Why don't we see them more often?
Exactly when did that solar eclipse that my grandmother remembers
happen? And, more to the point, when will I next see an
eclipse in my part of the world?
The following pages answer all these questions and more:
||Solar Eclipse List
A summary of recent and future solar eclipses until 2020,
with links to full details on each significant eclipse; and special
sections on total eclipses of the Sun in the UK and USA in this century.
||Lunar Eclipse List
A summary of recent and future lunar eclipses until
2020, with links to full details on each significant eclipse.
A collection of interesting eclipse statistics. Just how
often do total eclipses of the Sun occur? How often do we get
2 in a year? And more...
A searchable database of 5,000 years of eclipses. Look for an
eclipse by type, duration, or magnitude; on specific days (will you
ever see one on your birthday?); or for years with a number of
||What's The Time?
All eclipse times in these pages are given in Universal Time (UT).
This page contains some information on UT, if you're interested.
The Next 5 Significant Eclipses
This list here shows the next 5 total
and annular solar eclipses, and
partial lunar eclipses. This is a quick reference for you to see what major events are coming up; but note that
the lunar and
solar eclipse lists show all eclipses up
- 15 Apr 2014 - Total Lunar Eclipse
- (Saros 122, umbral mag. 1.296, max. eclipse 07:46 UT
total: 07:06:21 UT to 08:24:59 UT)
A total eclipse of the Moon will be visible from the Americas,
with the end of the total eclipse being visible from eastern
- 29 Apr 2014 - Annular Solar Eclipse
- (Saros 148, umbral mag. 0.984, max. eclipse 06:03 UT
annular: 05:57:50 UT to 06:09:20 UT)
The eclipse is visible as annular only from a tiny area in
Antarctica. A partial eclipse will be seen over most of Australia.
- 8 Oct 2014 - Total Lunar Eclipse
- (Saros 127, umbral mag. 1.172, max. eclipse 10:55 UT
total: 10:24:33 UT to 11:24:30 UT)
A total eclipse of the Moon will be visible from east Asia and
North America, with the beginning of the total eclipse being visible
from most of South America.
- 20 Mar 2015 - Total Solar Eclipse
- (Saros 120, umbral mag. 1.045, max. eclipse 09:46 UT
total: 09:09:32 UT to 10:21:20 UT)
A total eclipse will be visible in the vicinity of the British Isles
in the morning; it will be visible from the Faroes, but not from the
UK. The path crosses between Scotland and Iceland, over the Faroe
islands, and into the Arctic. A 90% partial eclipse
will be seen in north-west Scotland.
This is from the same Saros series as the eclipse of Jan 24 1925,
and is the last-but-one total eclipse in its Saros series. The next
eclipse in the triple-Saros series is a partial eclipse, on Apr 21,
- 4 Apr 2015 - Total Lunar Eclipse
- (Saros 132, umbral mag. 1.005, max. eclipse 12:00 UT
total: 11:54:16 UT to 12:06:12 UT)
A very brief total eclipse of the Moon, lasting just 12 minutes,
will be visible from east Asia, Australia, and western North America.
But When Will I See One?
One question that comes up often is: how often is an eclipse
visible from a certain part of the Earth? The answer is different for
different types of eclipse:
It would be easy to say that eclipses happen "at random", but
that's not true, of course. Basically, the set of circumstances that
lead to an eclipse is really complex. It's totally deterministic, in
that it depends on the motions of the Earth and Moon, which are known
precisely and which are totally predictable. That's why we can
predict eclipses so far in advance. But it's so complex that the
distribution of eclipses is effectively "random" -- ie. they're
scattered all over the Earth with no easily discernable pattern.
This means that two total solar eclipses can appear in the same
place in one year, or a within few years -- or a given location may go
thousands of years without seeing one. The average time between
total solar eclipses in a given place is something like 360 years, but
it's so variable that that doesn't really help much.
Check out my solar eclipse listing
for a list and maps of solar eclipses, and you'll see how they're
popping up all over the place. The listing of UK eclipses on that
page should give you an idea of what kind of a lottery it is for any
given place. If you're interested, you can go on to read about the mechanics behind this.
Lunar eclipses are different; since they occur on the Moon, any location on
Earth that can see the Moon at the time can see the eclipse. This means that
your chance of seeing a particular lunar eclipse is about 50-50. It's more
complex than that, a little, because the Earth turns during the eclipse, but
that's not far off.
You can check out my lunar eclipse
listing for maps showing where on Earth lunar eclipses can be seen
from. You can read about how lunar eclipses
work if you're still confused.
And finally, my statistics page
shows you how often particular types of eclipse occur.