Eclipse Facts

eclipse On the average, the Moon's shadow is not long enough to reach the Earth. Hence, annular eclipses are more frequent than total eclipses. However, when the Moon is close to the Earth, the shadow will reach to the Earth's surface and we see a total eclipse.

miles (km)
miles (km)
miles (km)
Moon's Distance from Earth 252,710 (406,700) 221,460 (356,400) 238,900 (384,500)
Length of Moon's Shadow 236,700 (381,000) 226,800 (365,000) 231,100 (372,000)

Types of Solar Eclipses:

Total 26.9%
Annular 33.2%
Annular/Total 4.8%
Partial 35.2%

  • There are at least two but no more than five solar eclipses in any year. Of these, no more than three are total. Only two eclipses occurred in 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1993. Five eclipses occurred (or will occur) in 1805, 1935, 2206, 2709.

  • During a total eclipse, totality -- the time when the Sun is completely covered--does not last long. The longest possible is seven minutes and 31 seconds. An exceptionally long totality will occur on July 16, 2186 lasting 7 minutes 29 seconds. There will not be any eclipses in the 21st century with a totality longer than 7 minutes.

  • On the average, a particular location on the Earth will have a total solar eclipse once every 410 years. However, Brisbane, Australia had two total eclipses in one 12 month period (April 5, 1856 and March 25, 1857)! The United States will have two total eclipses in 6 1/2 years, the first on August 21, 2017 and the second on April 8, 2024.

    Source: Littmann and Willcox, Totality, University of Hawaii Press.

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