Why people get so excited about a total solar eclipse

How solar and lunar eclipses work.

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Note: This is an update of a video we published in 2015.

In this video we explain the differences between a solar and lunar eclipse and why some believe that a total eclipse of the sun is the greatest natural phenomenon of them all.

Total solar eclipses are a big deal not because of how infrequent they are — there’s a total solar eclipse every 18 months on average — but because of how little of the Earth’s surface falls in the path of any given eclipse shadow.

The next total solar eclipse to visit the US will be in 2024. If an eclipse happens to come to your town, you’re lucky. Any given location will see a total solar eclipse only once in more than 300 years, on average. The vast majority of us will have to travel to an eclipse path if we want to see a total eclipse in our lifetimes.

Thankfully NASA has mapped every eclipse that will occur for the next 1,000 years: https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEpubs/5MCSE.html

Watch: Eclipse chasers tell us what it’s like to witness a total solar eclipse. https://youtu.be/Xo26Or1GGWE

The next solar eclipse over the United States will be in 2024.

After that? 2045. Then 2052, 2078, and, if you’re truly blessed with longevity, a great one over Maine in 2079.

Getty Images

NASA: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/search.cgi?series=383
Eclipse catalog: https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEcat5/catalog.html
Dmitry Chulkov: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrXJfVFbnfU
Bernt Rostad: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brostad/2773255031
mtsrs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mtsrs/3768574487
CNES/CNRS/NASA: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/11133
Marc Aragnou: https://vimeo.com/108544802
Jesse Olson: https://vimeo.com/57820123
redwing115: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yljQ3XsFU_8
Xavier Jubier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E53RbhQjajA
vfr800hu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlnMc6biFCw
mikewattsuk/bbc: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt3C5MM7Jkg

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