Have you ever experienced a total solar eclipse? Most Brits answer that with “I think so”, recalling times when they squinted at the sun through some eclipse glasses or a welding mask. If that’s you then, no, you did not taste ‘totality’. Most likely you saw a partial eclipse in 1999 (unless you were in cloudy Cornwall), in 2015, or just today (June 10) when a small chunk of the sun was temporarily obscured from the UK.
Eclipse-chasers don’t care about partial solar eclipses. They chase only totality, that few minutes when 100 per cent of the sun is blocked and a moonshadow rushes across those standing within a narrow path across the Earth. Totality brings darkness, a primeval fear and fabulous views of the sun’s delicate ice-white corona spraying into space. When it’s over there’s only one question: when is the next eclipse? The answer can take you on a tour of some of the world’s most iconic sights...
1. The Antarctica Eclipse 2021
Humans have very rarely witnessed a total solar eclipse in Antarctica. They only occur once every 18 years and 11 days, and only one cruise ship and a few planes made the journey last time round. If Covid-19 doesn’t get in the way then this time over 20 ships will be between South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the South Orkney Islands on December 4, 2021. The one minute 40 seconds eclipse will bring the darkest skies of the trip.
2. The Coral Coast Eclipse 2023
Though mostly it occurs at sea as a ‘ring of fire’ annular eclipse – a pretty kind of partial eclipse you must wear glasses to view – on April 20, 2023 a brief totality will glance northwest Australia, East Timor and West Papua. The pure white sand beaches near Exmouth and in Cape Range National Park, both in Western Australia, will be crowded while the offshore Ningaloo Reef will buzz with boats, with dozens of cruise ships beyond.
Sirius Travel is offering a 10-day tour of Western Australia including a visit to Exmouth for the eclipse, £4,434 (00 1 303 872 7313; siriustravel.com) while P&O is running a five-night cruise from Perth for £620 (00 612 9432 8500; pocruises.com.au)
3. Great North American Eclipse 2024
On April 8, 2024 comes another ‘Great American Eclipse’ that lasts even longer than the one in 2017. North America is currently enjoying a golden age of eclipses, but this one isn’t quite what it seems. It will bring a long totality along a path stretching from Mazatlán in Mexico to Newfoundland in Canada via 12 US states. Niagara Falls is the plum location, though the chances of clear skies in spring are good only in Texas or Mazatlán and Torreón, Mexico.
Astro Trails is running trips that observe at Niagara Falls, Kerrville (Texas) and Torreón (Mexico) from £1,025 (01422 887110; astro-trails.com)
4. The Atlantic Eclipse 2026
On August 12, 2026 the UK will get a 90 per cent solar eclipse, but a precious totality will be only a short flight away. Iceland is an option, but far more likely to be cloudy than northern Spain, where the eclipse nevertheless occurs dangerously low in the sky close to sunset. The savvy will head between Valladolid and Burgos while risk-takers will pray for an eclipsed sunset in a clear sky from Sant Elm, Mallorca.
5. The North African Eclipse 2027
If you want to make an eclipse-chaser smile then ask what they’re doing on August 2, 2027. Answer: basking in six minutes 22 seconds totality over Luxor in Egypt. Yes, that Luxor, home to the Karnak Temple and the royal tombs of the Valley of the Queens and Kings. Expect intense heat and immense crowds, though totality will also grace Tangiers in Morocco and even the Star Wars film set for Mos Espa in Tunisia.
6. The Great Antipodean Eclipse 2028
You probably won’t be able to resist being in Sydney Harbour’s brief darkness on July 22, 2028, but you should go to Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region for a totality lasting five minutes 10 seconds. The moonshadow strikes Purnululu National Park (for the Bungle Bungles), Karlu Karlu (the Devil’s Marbles) in the Northern Territory and the Blue Mountains in New South Wales too, and totality will also adorn the remote Christmas Island and Queenstown, New Zealand.
7. The Skeleton Coast Eclipse 2030
An hour after sunrise on November 25, 2030 a totality lasting one minutes 51 seconds will visit Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and the Namib desert, where the chance of clear skies is excellent. If you need another option then consider a safari in Botswana’s Mabuasehube Game Reserve, a remote offshoot of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Those in Eyre Peninsula in Streaky Bay, South Australia, will see a low eclipse close to sunset.
Jamie Carter is the Editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com