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Solar eclipse guide 2021: When, where & how to see them

Editor's note: The "ring of fire" solar eclipse of 2021 has ended. See video and photos of the eclipse here in our full story. And here's our photo gallery of the eclipse.

There are two solar eclipses in 2021. First, an annular eclipse commonly referred to as a "ring of fire," will occur on June 10 and be visible from parts of Canada, Greenland, the Arctic and Russia. Then on Dec. 4, a total solar eclipse will appear over the opposite pole, across the skies of Antarctica. 

December's eclipse will be the first and only total solar eclipse of 2021; the last one took place on Dec. 14, 2020, in South America. The most recent annular eclipse appeared over Africa and Asia on June 21, 2020

A solar eclipse occurs when the new moon, which is otherwise invisible, makes a rare appearance by crossing in front of the sun's face, slowly creating the appearance of a "bite" taken from the sun. This continues until the moon fully or partially blocks the sun's disk. 

Webcasts: How to watch the 'ring of fire' solar eclipse online on June 10
Related: When, where and how to see the 'ring of fire' solar eclipse of 2021

A total solar eclipse as seen from Piedra del Aquila, Argentina, on Dec. 14, 2020. (Image credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty)

A total solar eclipse — like the one that crossed the U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017 — occurs when the moon blocks 100% of the solar disk. If an observer is standing within the path of totality, they will notice a 360-degree sunset and see just the outermost layer of the sun, called the corona, during the total eclipse's peak. 

An annular eclipse occurs when the moon covers only the middle part of the sun, giving the event a "ring of fire" appearance. The amount of sun that the moon can block on a given eclipse encounter depends on where the moon is located in its elliptical orbit around the Earth. If the moon passes directly in front of the sun when it is near apogee, the point in its orbit where it is farthest from Earth, it will appear smaller than the sun in the sky.

The moon partially covers the sun during an annular solar eclipse as seen in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, early on June 21, 2020. (Image credit: Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty)

You can see a complete list of the upcoming solar eclipses on NASA's eclipse website, which provides information about solar eclipses, including detailed maps of each eclipse path. Remember to start making plans for the next great American solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. 

Annular solar eclipse on June 10

The first solar eclipse of 2021 will be a "ring of fire" solar eclipse near Earth's northern pole on June 10. This annular eclipse begins just north of Lake Superior. It runs through northern Ontario, across eastern Hudson Bay, northern Quebec and up through parts of Nunavut like Baffin Island. The path also clips parts of western Greenland. The annular eclipse continues over the Arctic and wraps over the top of our planet until it enters eastern Russia from the north. 

What's especially fascinating with this eclipse is that it will be the only dimming that the sun does for months for regions in the path of annularity. The eclipse will appear across the northern portion of our planet during this hemisphere's summertime when the North Pole is enjoying perpetual daytime. Some places like Iqaluit in Nunavut will be experiencing only daytime and some mild twilight; nights don't return to this region until the end of August, according to a sun graph from Time and Date. 

The annular eclipse on June 10 begins at 5:49 a.m. EDT (0949 GMT), peaks at 6:41 a.m. EDT (1041 GMT) and ends at 7:33 a.m. EDT (1133 GMT), according to NASA

A partial eclipse will be visible outside the path of totality for much of the Northern Hemisphere. Observers from most of Canada, most of Greenland, northern Alaska, Iceland, Scandinavia, most of Russia and some eastern U.S. states from North Carolina to Maine will see the moon cover at least a part of the sun.

A NASA map of the path of the June 10, 2021 annular solar eclipse shows the journey it will take across Earth's northernmost regions. (Image credit: Fred Espenak/NASA)

Below are time charts for the annular eclipse of June 10, with data from Time and Date

Timetable for the annular solar eclipse on June 10 (All times local)
LocationPartial eclipse beginsAnnular eclipse beginsEnd of partial eclipseEclipse duration
Nipigon, Ontario, Canadabelow horizon5:51 a.m.6:50 a.m.1 h 52 m
Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada5:06 a.m.6:06 a.m.7:13 a.m.2 h 7 m
Thule Air Base, Greenland6:28 a.m.7:31 a.m.8:40 a.m.2 h 11 m
Marvin Peninsula, Nunavut, Canada5:41 a.m.6:44 a.m.7:52 a.m.2 h 12 m
Gora Gran, Russia9:33 p.m.10:29 p.m.below horizon1 h 52 m

Timetable for a partial eclipse on June 10 (All times local)
LocationPartial eclipse beginsMaximum eclipsePartial eclipse ends% of sun covered
Fairbanks, Alaskabelow horizon3:23 a.m.3:44 a.m.24%
Torontobelow horizon5:40 a.m.6:37 a.m.80%
New York Citybelow horizon5:32 a.m.6:30 a.m.73%
Edinburgh, U.K.10:08 a.m.11:17 a.m.12:32 p.m.31%
Stockholm11:41 a.m.12:53 p.m.2:05 p.m.27%

Total solar eclipse on Dec. 4

In this timelapse image of the Great South American Eclipse on July 2, the sun sets behind the Andes mountains as the moon crosses directly in front of it, creating a stunning "diamond ring" effect in the evening sky. (Image credit: Chirag Upreti)

The last solar eclipse of 2021 will be a total solar eclipse. It will bookend the year's solar eclipses by appearing over the pole opposite the June 10 event.

The total solar eclipse on Dec. 4 will pass over the Antarctic peninsula, located near the southernmost tip of South America's cone. Unlike the Northern Hemisphere, however, extreme latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere do not have a lot of land. 

Antarctica and its surrounding waters are the best places to view the eclipse, but some places on other continents will get at least a partial view. The southernmost regions within Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa can catch a small shadow of the lunar disk moving over the sun, according to an interactive map from Time and Date.

A NASA map of the path the total solar eclipse of Dec. 4, 2021 will take across Antarctica. (Image credit: Fred Espenak/NASA)

Unlike the annular solar eclipse, the moon is closer to Earth this time around. The new moon will cover the full face of the sun, plunging the areas within the path of totality into temporary twilight. Otherwise, the area in the eclipse's path will be bathing in perpetual daylight during the summer of the Southern Hemisphere. 

After the eclipse, places like Emperor Point in Antarctica won't experience twilight until the middle of February 2022, according to this sun graph from Time and Date. 

The partial solar eclipse begins at 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT), the greatest point of the total solar eclipse occurs at 2:33 a.m. EST (0733 GMT) and the partial eclipse ends at 3:06 a.m. (0806 GMT), according to NASA

Below is a chart with some eclipse viewing times, featuring data from Time and Date.

Timetable for the solar eclipse on Dec. 4 (All times local)
LocationPartial eclipse beginsMaximum eclipsePartial eclipse ends% of sun covered
Palmer Station, Antarctica3:34 a.m.4:23 a.m.5:12 a.m.94%
Emperor Point, Antarctica3:42 a.m.4:35 a.m.5:28 a.m.100%
Melbourne, Australia7:53 p.m.8:12 p.m.below the horizon2%
Cape Town, South Africa7:42 a.m.8:19 a.m.8:58 a.m.12%
Cabo Kempe, Argentinabelow the horizon4:42 a.m.4:59 a.m.25%

How to view the sun safely

WARNING: Looking directly at the sun, even during an annular eclipse, can lead to blindness and other forms of permanent eye damage if you aren't wearing proper eye protection. 

To safely observe the sun or watch an eclipse, you need special protective eyewear or eclipse glasses. Basic sunglasses, even those with UV protection, will not sufficiently protect your eyes. If you're planning to document the eclipse with any photo equipment, there are special solar filters you can add to make sure the remaining ring of sunlight doesn't take a toll on your vision. 

The safest way to observe an eclipse is indirectly, using a pinhole camera that you can make easily at home. 

If you must document one of these events, a simple, wide-angle snap should capture the moment, even if you're using your smartphone camera. 

Editor's Note: If you snap an amazing solar eclipse photo and would like to share it with's readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to

Follow Doris Elin Urrutia on Twitter @salazar_elin. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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Doris Elin Urrutia

Doris Elin Urrutia joined as an intern in the summer of 2017. She received a B.A. in Sociology and Communications at Fordham University in New York City. Her work was previously published in collaboration with London Mining Network. Her passion for geology and the cosmos started when she helped her sister build a model solar system in a Bronx library. Doris also likes learning new ways to prepare the basil sitting on her windowsill. Follow her on twitter at @salazar_elin.

  • rod
    "A solar eclipse occurs when the disk of the moon appears to cross in front of the disk of the sun. A total solar eclipse — like the one that crossed the U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017..."

    This was a great solar eclipse to observe. I really enjoyed using my telescope with white-light solar filer, 90-mm refractor to view the event. Solar eclipses measured in the 1880s showed the Moon is slowly receding from Earth and the Earth is slowing down too, thus the length of day is increasing. Charles Darwin's son, George Darwin noted this and developed the fission theory for the origin of the Moon.