ECLIPSE TRIVIA

The subject of solar eclipses seems tailor-made for trivia. The seemingly random combinations of dates on which elipses occur and places in which eclipses are visible, in addition to the vast amount of historical and cultural anecdotes related to eclipses, result in an endless supply of factoids and minutiae. Below you'll find a collection of eclipse-related trivia organized by category, curated from the @NationalEclipse Twitter account.




Paper Eclipse Glasses

ECLIPSE STORE

GENERAL ECLIPSE TRIVIA

  • It's been calculated that, on average, a total solar eclipse is seen from the same place only once every 375 years.
  • The greatest possible duration of a total solar eclipse is about 7 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • During a total solar eclipse, the Moon's shadow moves across the Earth at more than 1,000 mph, or faster than the speed of sound.
  • At least two, and up to five, solar eclipses occur each year, but no more than two can be total.
  • The Sun is 400 times larger than the Moon, but it's also 400 times farther away, making total solar eclipses possible due to the apparently identical sizes of the Sun and the Moon in the sky.
  • The word "eclipse" comes from "ekleipsis," the Ancient Greek word for abandonment.
  • An eclipse moves from west to east because the Moon orbits the Earth from west to east and its shadow moves faster than the rotation of the Earth.
  • Based on 5,000 years of eclipse data, the most likely month for a total solar eclipse to occur is May. The least likely is November.
  • A totally eclipsed Sun is about as bright as a full Moon, which is about 400,000 times less bright than a non-eclipsed Sun.
  • A solar eclipse can occur on every planet in our solar system except for Mercury and Venus (because they have no moons).
  • On Jupiter, a total solar eclipse occurs once every 42 hours and three total solar eclipses can occur at the same time.
  • A solar eclipse can only occur during a new Moon and a lunar eclipse can only occur during a full Moon.
  • If the Moon's orbit wasn't tilted five degrees to the Earth's orbit, solar eclipses would occur every month.
  • It's been estimated that only about one in every 10,000 people will see a total solar eclipse in their lifetime.
  • The temperature can drop 20 degrees or more during a total solar eclipse.
  • An "annular" eclipse occurs when the Moon is too far away from the Earth in its orbit to fully cover the Sun, resulting in a "ring of fire" instead of totality.
  • A "hybrid" eclipse occurs when a solar eclipse morphs between an annular eclipse and a total eclipse. Only about five percent of all eclipses are hybrid.
  • During a solar eclipse, the Moon makes first contact on the right side of the Sun in the northern hemisphere and the left side of the Sun in the southern hemisphere.
  • The egg cream is a traditional post-eclipse celebratory drink.
  • Even during a 99 percent partial solar eclipse, the Sun is still 10,000 times brighter than during totality.
  • A "total solar eclipse" is always a partial eclipse most of the time inside the path of totality and all of the time outside the path of totality.
  • People who travel around the world to observe total solar eclipses are called "umbraphiles."
  • In a way, the reddish tint exhibited by the Moon during a total lunar eclipse is the reflected light of all of the sunrises and sunsets occurring on Earth.
  • A solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse will always precede or follow the other by about two weeks.
TOP



PAST ECLIPSES

  • Over the last 3,000 years, there have been 7,112 solar eclipses, including 1,892 total eclipses.
  • The maximum number of solar eclipses that can occur in any given year is five. Over the last 3,000 years, this has happened only 13 times.
  • A total solar eclipse itself isn't particularly rare. Over the last 3,000 years, a total solar eclipse has occurred at least once on all 366 calendar days.
  • A total solar eclipse hasn't occurred on May 21 since 975 BCE, the longest amount of time of any calendar day.
  • Over the last 3,000 years, two solar eclipses have occurred in the same month only 24 times.
  • The last total solar eclipse with a duration of totality of at least 7 minutes occurred in 1973.
TOP



FUTURE ECLIPSES

  • 78 more solar eclipses will occur in the U.S. this century, including nine total eclipses.
  • Nine more total solar eclipses will occur in the U.S. this century: 2024, 2033, 2044, 2045, 2052, 2078, 2079, 2097, and 2099.
  • Since the Moon is slowly moving away from the Earth, total solar eclipses will no longer be possible in about 500 to 600 million years.
  • A total solar eclipse will occur simultaneously with a transit of Mercury in 9966 and a transit of Venus in 15232.
  • This millennium, there will be 11 total solar eclipses with durations of totality of at least 7 minutes.
  • The next total solar eclipse with a duration of totality of at least 7 minutes will occur in 2150.
  • The total solar eclipse of 2044 ends in the U.S. while the total solar eclipse of 2079 starts in the U.S. No other total solar eclipses this century will do so.
  • If you want to see lots of solar eclipses, live in Alaska. Alaska will get 49 more solar eclipses this century, more than any other state.
  • Georgia and Texas will both get four total solar eclipses this century, more than any other state.
  • Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, and Washington are the only U.S. states that won't get a total solar eclipse this century.
  • The next total solar eclipse with a path of totality that will cross the U.S. from coast to coast will occur in 2045.
  • The next total solar eclipse with a path of totality exclusive to the U.S. will occur in 2316.
  • A total solar eclipse will be visible from Walt Disney World for over 6 minutes on August 12, 2045.
TOP



ECLIPSE HISTORY

  • The earliest known record of a solar eclipse was made in ancient Ireland over 5,000 years ago.
  • During the American Revolution, a Harvard scientist was granted free passage into British-controlled Maine to observe a solar eclipse.
  • Over 4,000 years ago, two Chinese astronomers were executed because they failed to predict an eclipse for the emperor.
  • The undefeated British racehorse Eclipse was so named because he was born during an annular eclipse in 1764.
  • Thomas Edison traveled to Wyoming in 1878 to see a total solar eclipse.
  • The Antikythera mechanism, built over 2,000 years ago and discovered in a Greek shipwreck, could predict eclipses.
  • The unincorporated community of Eclipse, Virginia, was named for a total solar eclipse that crossed over the area in 1900.
  • In 1887, a Russian chemist used a hot air balloon to ascend above the clouds to observe a total solar eclipse.
  • In ancient China, the word for eclipse was "chih," which also meant "to eat."
  • Legend holds that a total solar eclipse so terrified Louis the Pious in 840 that he literally died of fright.
  • A total solar eclipse in 1919 was used to help confirm Einstein's general theory of relativity.
  • In an era before color photography, artists were often recruited to paint what they saw during totality.
  • In 1503 Christopher Columbus earned the help of hostile natives on the island of Jamaica by "predicting" a lunar eclipse.
  • In 603 BCE, a truce was called between the Lydians and the Medes when a total solar eclipse was interpreted as a sign from the heavens.
  • From 1882 to 1884 there was a major league baseball team called the Louisville Eclipse.
TOP



MYTHS AND SUPERSTITIONS

  • The ancient Chinese believed that eclipses were caused by a dragon devouring the Sun.
  • The Vikings believed that eclipses were caused by a wolf devouring the Sun.
  • The ancient Vietnamese believed that eclipses were caused by a giant frog devouring the Sun.
  • In Hindu mythology, eclipses are caused by the severed head of a demon swallowing the Sun.
  • Korean folklore tells of eclipses being caused by mythical dogs biting the Sun.
  • In the language of the indigenous Pomo people of California, the word for "eclipse" means "Sun got bit by a bear."
  • In Italy, some people believe that planting flowers during a solar eclipse will produce more colorful blooms.
  • Even today, some cultures believe that eclipses are dangerous to pregnant women.
TOP



POP CULTURE

  • A total solar eclipse came to Springfield on an episode of The Simpsons from 2009.
  • The first commercial eclipse cruise set sail in 1972 and the first commercial eclipse flight took off in 1974.
  • Mark Twain combined time travel and a solar eclipse in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court to create a unique plotline.
  • In Little Shop of Horrors, the man-eating plant named Audrey II is discovered during a total solar eclipse.
  • A solar eclipse was featured in the plotline of a motion picture as early as 1907.
  • Mount Gay Eclipse Barbados Rum was named for the concurrence of a total solar eclipse and the passage of Halley's Comet in 1910.
  • The total solar eclipse referenced in Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King was a real eclipse that crossed over Maine in 1963.
  • The hit 1972 song "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon references a real eclipse from 1970 with the lyrics "Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia / To see the total eclipse of the Sun."
  • Bonnie Tyler's 1983 hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was voted the most popular eclipse-related song in a 2022 NationalEclipse.com Twitter poll.
TOP



2017 ECLIPSE

  • The 2017 eclipse was the first total solar eclipse seen in the U.S. since 1991 and the first seen in the contiguous U.S. since 1979.
  • The 2017 eclipse was the first total solar eclipse with a path of totality to cross the U.S. from coast to coast since 1918.
  • The 2017 eclipse was the first total solar eclipse with a path of totality exclusive to the U.S. since before the nation's founding.
  • Before 2017, it had been 760 years since the last total solar eclipse with a path of totality exclusive to the present-day U.S.
  • The 2017 eclipse had a maximum duration of totality of 2 minutes and 40.2 seconds.
  • The centerline of the 2017 eclipse entered the U.S. in Lincoln Beach, Oregon, at about 9:04am PDT and exited the U.S. near McClellanville, South Carolina, at about 4:10pm EDT.
  • The path of the 2017 eclipse was about 8,600 miles long from beginning to end.
  • Even though the path of the 2017 eclipse crossed the entire U.S. from coast to coast, that only represented about 29 percent of its total length.
  • The 2017 eclipse belongs to a "series" of eclipses called "Saros 145" that includes 77 eclipses occurring about every 18 years from 1639 to 3009.
  • The eclipse series of which the 2017 eclipse belongs will peak in duration at 7 minutes and 12 seconds in 2522.
  • Eclipses have "twins." The total solar eclipse of September 23, 2071, is a "twin" of the 2017 eclipse.
  • The path of the 2017 eclipse crossed over Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and tiny parts of Montana and Iowa.
  • It was estimated that about 12 million people lived within the path of the 2017 eclipse.
  • The magnitude of the 2017 eclipse was 1.0306. Any eclipse with a magnitude of at least 1.0 is a total eclipse.
  • All total eclipses have points of greatest duration and greatest eclipse. For the 2017 eclipse, those points were located in Illinois and Kentucky, respectively.
  • For the 2017 eclipse, no other state had a longer path of totality than Nebraska, with 467 miles of shadow coverage.
  • Before 2017, it was estimated that only .001 percent of Americans had seen a total solar eclipse.
  • The path of the 2017 eclipse crossed over five state capitals.
  • The 2017 eclipse occured on a Monday, conveniently used as part of a three-day weekend by many observers.
  • The centerline of the 2017 eclipse crossed into Illinois a total of three times.
  • The partial phases of the 2017 eclipse lasted for a total of about two to three hours.
  • From coast to coast, the 2017 eclipse traveled about 2,498 miles in approximately 90 minutes and 30 seconds at an average speed of about 1,656 mph.
  • Before 2017, the last time a total solar eclipse crossed the U.S. from coast to coast, Woodrow Wilson was president and World War I was raging.
  • Before 2017, never in the 241-year history of the country had a total solar eclipse been seen exclusively in the U.S.
  • For the 2017 eclipse, the smallest partial eclipse in the U.S. and contiguous U.S. occured in Hawaii and Maine, with only about 19 percent and 40 percent of the Sun obscured, respectively.
  • Before 2017, the last total solar eclipse to occur on August 21 was in 1914. The next total solar eclipse to occur on August 21 will be in 2734. Neither in the U.S.
  • All of North America got at least a partial solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and a partial eclipse could be seen in some parts of South America, Europe, and Africa.
  • The path of the 2017 eclipse crossed the future path of the 2024 eclipse, making it possible to see two total solar eclipses from the same spot in the span of only seven years.
  • The path of the 2017 eclipse had a maximum width of about 71.5 miles.
TOP



2024 ECLIPSE

  • The 2024 eclipse will occur in the U.S. only seven years after the last total solar eclipse occurred in the U.S., a relatively short timeframe.
  • The 2024 eclipse has a maximum duration of totality of 4 minutes and 28.0 seconds.
  • The centerline of the 2024 eclipse will enter the U.S. near Radar Base, Texas, at about 12:10pm CDT and exit the U.S. in Monticello, Maine, at about 4:41pm EDT.
  • The path of the 2024 eclipse is about 9,200 miles long from beginning to end.
  • From Texas to Maine, the path of the 2024 eclipse is about 2,142 miles long, representing only about 23 percent of its total length.
  • The 2024 eclipse belongs to a "series" of eclipses called "Saros 139" that includes 71 eclipses occurring about every 18 years from 1501 to 2763.
  • The eclipse series of which the 2024 eclipse belongs will peak in duration at 7 minutes and 29 seconds in 2186.
  • Eclipses have "twins." The total solar eclipse of May 11, 2078, is a "twin" of the 2024 eclipse.
  • The path of the 2024 eclipse will cross over Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and tiny parts of Tennessee and Michigan.
  • The magnitude of the 2024 eclipse is 1.0566. Any eclipse with a magnitude of at least 1.0 is a total eclipse.
  • All total eclipses have points of greatest duration and greatest eclipse. For the 2024 eclipse, those points are located in Mexico.
  • For the 2024 eclipse, no other state has a longer path of totality than Texas, with 478 miles of shadow coverage.
  • The path of the 2024 eclipse will cross over four state capitals.
  • As with the 2017 eclipse, the 2024 eclipse will occur on a Monday.
  • The partial phases of the 2024 eclipse will last for a total of about two to three hours.
  • From Texas to Maine, the 2024 eclipse travels about 2,142 miles in approximately 64 minutes and 29 seconds at an average speed of about 1,993 mph.
  • For the 2024 eclipse, the smallest partial eclipse in the U.S. and contiguous U.S. will occur in Alaska and Washington, respectively, with only about 16 percent of the Sun obscured in Washington and with Alaska directly on the dividing line between partial eclipse and no eclipse at all.
  • Before 2024, the last total solar eclipse to occur on April 8 was in 2005. The next total solar eclipse to occur on April 8 will be in 2722. Neither in the U.S.
  • Most of North America and Central America will get at least a partial solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, and a partial eclipse will be seen in small parts of South America and Europe.
  • The path of the 2024 eclipse crosses the path of the 2017 eclipse, making it possible to see two total solar eclipses from the same spot in the span of only seven years.
  • The path of the 2024 eclipse has a maximum width of about 125.9 miles.
  • Compared to the 2017 eclipse, the 2024 eclipse has a duration of totality that's about 68 percent longer and a path of totality that's about 76 percent wider at its widest point.
TOP



HOLIDAYS

Sometimes, by mere chance, a total solar eclipse coincides with a major U.S. holiday or observance. The following table details the year in which a total solar eclipse last occurred on a particular holiday and the year in which it will happen again. (Note that UTC time is used to determine the date on which an eclipse occurs and no consideration is given to whether an eclipse is actually visible in the U.S. or not.)

(click or tap on any column header to re-sort)

(rotate screen horizontally for a sortable table)

Holiday Date Last Next
New Year's DayJanuary 118892606
Valentine's DayFebruary 1419342306
St. Patrick's DayMarch 1716162705
Memorial DayVaries19652245
Independence DayJuly 417962122
HalloweenOctober 313842692
ThanksgivingVaries19842049
Christmas EveDecember 2415543000*
ChristmasDecember 2516662755
New Year's EveDecember 3118612233
Eclipse data courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, from eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov.

* NASA date-specific eclipse data doesn't extend beyond the year 3000. Therefore, it's currently unknown when a total solar eclipse will next occur on certain dates.

Note: A total solar eclipse can never occur on Easter. Read this short blog post to find out why.

Want to know when a total solar eclipse last occurred or will next occur on your birthday, an anniversary, or another special day? See this chart to find out.

TOP



CITIES

It's been calculated that, on average, a total solar eclipse is seen from the same place only once every 375 years. Of course, by pure luck, a city can beat the average or fall far short. The following table details the year in which a total solar eclipse was last visible from within the present-day boundries of a particular U.S. city and the year in which one will be visible again.

(click or tap on any column header to re-sort)

(rotate screen horizontally for a sortable table)

City, State Last Next
Albuquerque, NM06/16/180607/17/2205
Anchorage, AK02/04/194308/02/2399
Atlanta, GA06/24/177805/11/2078
Austin, TX05/26/139704/08/2024
Baltimore, MD07/29/147804/14/2200
Boston, MA10/02/195905/01/2079
Buffalo, NY01/24/192510/26/2144
Charlotte, NC08/07/186905/11/2078
Chicago, IL06/16/180609/14/2099
Cincinnati, OH*01/21/139500/00/3000
Cleveland, OH06/16/180604/08/2024
Columbus, OH06/28/145104/08/2024
Dallas, TX07/29/187804/08/2024
Denver, CO06/08/191808/12/2045
Detroit, MI06/16/180609/12/2444
El Paso, TX10/23/162310/15/2498
Fort Worth, TX07/29/187804/08/2024
Honolulu, HI08/07/185012/31/2252
Houston, TX07/29/187804/14/2200
Indianapolis, IN09/14/120504/08/2024
Jacksonville, FL04/28/155711/28/2198
Kansas City, MO08/21/201707/17/2205
Las Vegas, NV05/22/172411/20/2207
Los Angeles, CA05/22/172409/03/2472
Louisville, KY08/07/186910/17/2153
Memphis, TN11/30/183408/16/2566
Miami, FL02/21/180308/12/2045
Milwaukee, WI05/16/137909/14/2099
Minneapolis, MN06/30/195409/14/2099
Nashville, TN08/21/201708/16/2566
New Orleans, LA05/28/190005/11/2078
New York, NY01/24/192505/01/2079
Oakland, CA06/26/142412/31/2252
Oklahoma City, OK06/08/191808/12/2045
Omaha, NE07/07/144205/26/2245
Orlando, FL06/08/191808/12/2045
Philadelphia, PA07/29/147805/01/2079
Phoenix, AZ06/16/180607/17/2205
Pittsburgh, PA06/28/145109/12/2444
Portland, OR02/26/197906/25/2169
Salt Lake City, UT01/11/188008/12/2045
San Antonio, TX05/26/139704/08/2024
San Diego, CA09/10/192307/03/2866
San Francisco, CA06/26/142412/31/2252
San Jose, CA06/26/142412/31/2252
Seattle, WA07/18/186006/25/2169
St. Louis, MO08/21/201702/25/2343
Tampa, FL03/08/162508/12/2045
Washington, DC07/29/147809/12/2444
Wichita, KS11/30/183408/12/2045
Eclipse data courtesy of Fred Espenak and Chris O'Byrne, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, from eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov.

* There will not be another total solar eclipse in Cincinnati until after the year 3000. According to NASA, for the purposes of calculating eclipse data for a specific geographic area, the uncertainty in longitude is unacceptably large beyond the year 3000. Therefore, the actual date on which a total solar eclipse will next occur in Cincinnati is currently unknown.

TOP


Featured Eclipse Offers and Destinations