How To See Tuesday’s Total Solar Eclipse Without Leaving Home

The moon will pass directly in front of the sun on Tuesday afternoon for skywatchers in South America like it did across the United States on Aug. 21, 2017. When the sun is covered, observers will enjoy incredible views of the sun’s outer atmosphere called the corona. They’ll also see the planet Venus and several of the brighter winter stars like Sirius and Betelgeuse. Rick Klawitter

It’s happening again — I wish I were there! On Tuesday afternoon July 2, the moon will cover the sun for a maximum of 4 minutes 33 seconds. Much of the eclipse will take place over the South Pacific Ocean, but millions of lucky skywatchers positioned across an ~95-mile-wide (150 km) corridor from La Serena, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina will get to witness the mind-altering beauty of totality.

A partial eclipse will be visible across much of eastern South America including as far north as Costa Rica and Nicaragua. No portion of the eclipse is visible in the United States or Mexico, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch it. Check out the online options at the end of the article.

During a total solar eclipse, the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow (black dot) about 95 miles wide on the planet. As the moon zips along its orbit at around 2,200 mph, the shadow moves across the planet. Whatever is in the shadow’s path will experience a total eclipse. Solar eclipses only happen at new moon. NSO, AURA, NSF

The area of Buenos Aires, a city of 2.9 million people, should be most interesting as the line of totality cuts directly across the city. Residents in the northern half will see 99.7 percent of the sun covered about 9 minutes before sunset while those in the southern reaches of the city (and points south) will see totality. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies there with a high of 58° (15° C).

A sunset total eclipse! This is the view just south of Buenos Aires. Wishing you’d made reservations? Me too. Stellarium

On the other end of the path in Chile the moon’s shadow will temporarily shade some of the world’s most powerful telescopes including those at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), Gemini South and La Silla Observatory. Five science teams will beam in on the sun’s corona and one on the Earth’s atmosphere during those precious minutes. One group will monitor temperature changes in Earth’s atmosphere. Another, led by Jay Pasachoff (Williams College) will image the Sun’s corona to measure its current color, shape, and temperature.

This map shows the path of totality (in dark blue) and where a partial eclipse is visible (aqua). Times are UT or Universal Time. Subtract 4 hours for Eastern, 5 for Central, 6 for Mountain and 7 for Pacific. 20:00 UT = 15:00 or 3 p.m. Central Time. The fractions indicate how much of the sun is covered, so 0.20 = 20 percent. Fred Espenak

If news of this eclipse gets you pumped to see the next, mark your calendar for Dec. 14, 2020 when the moon’s shadow passes over nearly the same region but shifted south into Patagonia. There are still a few open spots on EclipseTours.com  (just one option).The next U.S. total eclipse happens on April 8, 2024 with the path of totality reaching from Newfoundland across Maine, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Mexico. The big cities of Montreal, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Dallas all lie directly in the path.

Map showing the path of the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse. Click for a higher resolution version. Michael Zeiler, www.GreatAmericanEclipse.com

If you’re already positioned and ready to go for tomorrow’s eclipse, you’ll also know you need a safe solar filter / eclipse glasses to watch all the partial phases. Or you can make little holes in a paper plate and project the sun’s image on the ground below. Only during totality can you remove your eclipse glasses and take in the scene filter-free. Click here for an interactive map showing details of where the eclipse is visible and how much of the sun will be covered. If you’re like me and couldn’t afford the time or money to see tomorrow’s eclipse, no worries. You can still watch it live-streamed at these sites.

This artist’s impression shows how the total solar eclipse of July 2 could appear from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile if there are no clouds. The sun will be quite low in the western sky and, if the skies are clear, several planets and bright stars should be also visible. Venus shines at bottom and Sirius at upper left. M. Druckmüller / P. Aniol / K. Delcourte / P. Horálek / L. Calçada / ESO

All times shown are Central Daylight (CDT) for Tuesday, July 2. The eclipse begins at 11:55 a.m. and finishes 4:50 p.m.

  • European Southern Observatory — webcast starts at 2:15 p.m. A raw feed with no commentary. Also available on YouTube.
  • Time and Date siteentire event live-streamed from 11:55 a.m. (first “bite”) to 4:50 p.m.
  • Exploratorium — Broadcast from 2:23 p.m. to 4:46 p.m. from Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile with commentary from educators and NASA scientists. You can also watch it live on their free eclipse app for Android and iOS.
  • NASA TV — Live views from telescopes in Vicuna, Chile, presented without audio, from 2 to 5 p.m.; a one-hour program with live commentary in English, from 3 to 4 p.m. and a one-hour program with live commentary in Spanish, from 3 to 4 p.m.
  • Virtual Telescope — Feed begins at 2 p.m. featuring Italian astrophysicist Gianluca Masi.
  • Slooh Observatory Facebook page — From 2:15 to 4:50 p.m. To view you’ll first need to sign up for a free 14-day trial membership to the Slooh site.