In early December, the only total solar eclipse of 2021 and the last one until 2023 will darken the sky. It's one of the biggest celestial events of the year, but few people will see it; the eclipse's path of totality falls on a narrow strip in Antarctica. Fortunately for sky-gazers, the partial eclipse will be visible in more populated areas.
When Is the 2021 Total Solar Eclipse?
The next total solar eclipse—and the last one for nearly a year and a half—will occur on Saturday, December 4, 2021. The Earth has seen partial solar eclipses as recently as June, but this one will be different. For a brief window, the moon will fully block out the sun when the bodies cross paths in the sky, casting a shadow over the planet and revealing the sun's corona (the outermost part of its atmosphere).
Areas just outside the path of totality will be treated to a partial solar eclipse. While the moon won't fully eclipse the sun over these regions, the two bodies will still overlap in a dazzling display (that viewers will need special protective gear to see). The partial solar eclipse will be visible starting at 5:29 UTC and last until 9:37 on December 4. The first location to see the total eclipse begin should look up at 7:00 UTC. The maximum eclipse occurs at 7:33, and the full eclipse will conclude at the end of its path at 8:06 UTC.
Where to See the Total Solar Eclipse
To see 2021's only total solar eclipse, you have to travel to Antarctica's coast. Though the location is remote, many eclipse chasers are making the trek to the bottom of the planet to catch the event. The path of totality overlaps with a popular tourist track that includes the Antarctic Peninsula, Union Glacier, and the Weddell Sea. Several tour companies have organized cruises that will follow the eclipse across the edge of the continent.
If you can't make it all the way to Antarctica, the partial eclipse will be visible in more accessible parts of the world. People in the southern tips of Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and South America can step outside on December 4 to see the spectacle above their heads.