Total solar eclipse of December 4, 2021
Total solar eclipse
A total solar eclipse sweeps across Antarctica on December 4, 2021. The instant of greatest eclipse takes place at 07:33 UTC, which is 1:33 a.m. on the morning of December 4 for people in North America (CST). So North Americans will not see the eclipse. People located at the southernmost tips of South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand will experience the partial phases. The path of the moon’s umbral shadow begins in the Southern Ocean about 300 miles (500 km) southeast of the Falkland Islands, crosses the Antarctic continent, and ends at sunset in the Southern Ocean. Viewers within the much broader path of the moon’s penumbral shadow, which includes the Southern Ocean, southern Africa and the southeastern corner of Australia and Tasmania, will see a partial eclipse.
The eastern edge of the eclipse path passes within 225 miles (360 km) of South Georgia Island. This island is renowned for its whaling stations during the first half of the 20th century, and as the starting and ending point of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s remarkable attempt to cross the Antarctic continent (1914-1917).
The South Orkney Islands are the only land in the path prior to reaching Antarctica. However, they straddle the western edge of the path with the Coronation Islands bisected by the path edge. Apart from the personnel at several research stations, there are no permanent inhabitants on the islands. From the eastern coast of easternmost Laurie Island, the duration of totality is 1 minute 8 seconds with the sun 8 degrees above the horizon.
The path continues south across the Weddell Sea, where the instant of greatest eclipse occurs at 07:33:27 UT1. The duration is 1 minute 54 seconds, the sun’s altitude is 17 degrees, and the path width is 260 miles (419 km).
Traversing the Ronne Ice Shelf, the path quickly crosses Antarctica and reaches the coast of the Amundsen Sea at 08:01 UT1. The central duration has dropped to 1 minute 38 seconds and the sun is 7 degrees above the horizon. Now heading north, the umbral path ends three minutes later as the shadow lifts off of Earth in the Southern Ocean at 08:04 UT1.
Find maps and eclipse timings below. Remember to convert UTC to your time. Note the different between UTC and UT1. You can visit timeanddate.com to get an exact timing of the eclipse from your location. The number one rule for solar eclipse observing is to make sure you protect your eyes by using an appropriate filter.
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Moon will be nearby
Greatest eclipse takes place 0.1 days before the moon reaches perigee, its closest point to Earth for the month. So it’s a relatively large-sized moon that covers the sun during this eclipse. Thus, in the day or two after the eclipse, people who live along a coastline can expect higher-than-usual tides.
Some call these sorts of tides perigean spring tides.
But in recent years, these close new or full moons have come to be called supermoons, some are also calling them supermoon tides. And we’ve also heard the term king tides.
Read more: Tides and the pull of the sun and moon
Saros and eclipse season
During the eclipse, the sun is located in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus.
The eclipse belongs to Saros 152 and is number 13 of 70 eclipses in the series. All eclipses in this series occur at the moon’s descending node. The moon moves northward with respect to the node with each succeeding eclipse in the series.
The total solar eclipse of December 4, 2021, is preceded two weeks earlier by a partial lunar eclipse on November 19, 2021.
These eclipses all take place during a single eclipse season.
Maps and data for the total solar eclipse
Orthographic Map: total solar eclipse of December 4, 2021. Detailed map of eclipse visibility
Animated Map: total solar eclipse of December 4, 2021. Animated map of the moon’s shadows across Earth
Google Map: total solar eclipse of December 4, 2021. Interactive map of the eclipse path
Path Table: total solar eclipse of December 4, 2021. Coordinates of the central line and path limits
Circumstances Calculator: December 4, 2021 total solar eclipse. Eclipse times for hundreds of cities
Saros 152 Table: data for all eclipses in the Saros series
Additional tables and data for this event
Bottom line: A total solar eclipse will occur on Saturday, December 4, 2021. The path of totality sweeps across Antarctica. But people in southernmost South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand have a shot at the partial phases.
Planet-observing is easy: Top tips here
See photos of the November 2021 lunar eclipse