The only total solar eclipse of the year arrives this week. On Monday, December 14, lucky skywatchers will have the chance to spot the spectacular celestial event, when the new moon fully blocks the sun, creating temporary darkness during what NASA calls "one of nature's most awe-inspiring sights."
When the moon covers the sun completely, the sun's atmosphere — known as its corona — can be seen. This year, it coincides with the impressive Geminids meteor shower.
Unfortunately, this solar eclipse will only track over parts of South America, so relatively few people will be able to watch it live. However, several live streams of the event will ensure eager amateur astronomers have a chance to see the eclipse, no matter where in the world you are located.
How to watch
The eclipse will be visible in South America, specifically in certain regions of Chile and Argentina. According to NASA, the path will stretch from Saavedra, Chile to Salina del Eje, Argentina.
Additionally, ships located in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans will also have a chance to spot the event.
Outside the narrow path of totality, some people will still be able to see a partial eclipse — where the moon covers part of the sun's disk. To find out if you are located along this path, check out NASA's map.
For those viewing the eclipse in person, there are several safety precautions to follow. Never look directly at the sun, and make sure to wear solar eclipse glasses to protect your eyes — regular sunglasses are not sufficient.
Anyone in the centerline of the totality path has about 2 minutes and 10 seconds to totality to view the total eclipse under clear weather conditions.
For those located elsewhere in the world, NASA TV will live stream the eclipse from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile via telescopes at the Observatorio Docente. The show starts at 9:40 a.m. ET, with a narrated program in Spanish at 10:30 a.m. ET and the total eclipse set for 11:02 a.m. ET. Watch it here.
The live stream will feature real-time views of the eclipse and a discussion with two NASA scientists, Yari Collado-Vega and Bea Gallardo-Lacourt, explaining how researchers use eclipses to study the sun.
Time and Date is also hosting a live stream, from the Villarrica volcano in Chile starting at 9:30 a.m. ET.
The next total solar eclipse won't come until December 4, 2021. Luckily 2020 still has one last celestial phenomenon in store: The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21.
First published on December 12, 2020 / 2:51 PM
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