On Saturday, December 4, 2021, some people in the Southern Hemisphere will have the chance to experience a total or partial eclipse of the Sun.
A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth, fully or partially blocking the Sun’s light in some areas. For a total solar eclipse to take place, the Sun, Moon, and Earth must be in a direct line. People located in the center of the Moon’s shadow when it hits Earth will see a total eclipse. The sky becomes very dark, as if it were dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, people in the path of a total solar eclipse can see the Sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere, which is otherwise usually obscured by the bright face of the Sun.
The only place where this total solar eclipse can be seen is Antarctica.
In some places, while viewers won’t get to see the total solar eclipse, they’ll instead experience a partial solar eclipse. This happens when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are not exactly lined up. The Sun will appear to have a dark shadow on only part of its surface. Viewers in parts of Saint Helena, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa, South Georgia and Sandwich Islands, Crozet Islands, Falkland Islands, Chile, New Zealand, and Australia will see a partial solar eclipse on December 4.
In many of these locations, the eclipse will occur before, during, and after sunrise or sunset. This means that viewers will need to get a clear view of the horizon during sunrise or sunset in order to see the eclipse.
To see more details about exactly where this eclipse will occur, as well as more in-depth scientific information, please use this image:
Download this fact sheet to learn more about eclipses, eclipse safety, and fun eclipse activities:
Weather permitting, a view of the total solar eclipse from Union Glacier, Antarctica, will be streamed on YouTube and on nasa.gov/live. This stream is courtesy of Theo Boris and Christian Lockwood of the JM Pasachoff Antarctic Expedition.
The stream starts at 1:30 a.m. EST. Totality begins at 2:44 a.m. EST. The stream ends at 3:37 a.m. EST.
How to Safely Watch a Total or Partial Solar Eclipse
It is never safe to look directly at the Sun, even if the Sun is partly or mostly obscured. When viewing a partial solar eclipse, you must wear solar viewing or eclipse glasses throughout the entire eclipse if you want to face the Sun. Solar viewing or eclipses glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing the Sun.
If you are in the path of a total solar eclipse, you can take off your solar viewing or eclipse glasses only when the Moon is completely blocking the Sun. To learn when you can safely remove your glasses, see this page.
If you don’t have solar viewing or eclipse glasses, you can use an alternate indirect method, such as a pinhole projector. Pinhole projectors shouldn’t be used to look directly at the Sun, but instead to project sunlight onto a surface. Read a how-to guide for creating a pinhole viewer.
In October 2023, an annular solar eclipse will cross North America. Then, just six months later, in April 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross the continent. These events provide a unique opportunity for people in the United States to experience an eclipse.