Image at top: Partial solar eclipse from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, on October 23, 2014, via Doug Waters.
The new moon will take a bite out of the solar disk to stage a partial eclipse of the sun on February 15, 2018. This eclipse is visible from southern South America (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, far-southern Brazil and far-southern Paraguay), Antarctica, and the far-southern extremities of the South Pacific and South Atlantic oceans. If you’re in a position to watch this eclipse, remember to use proper eye protection.
On a worldwide scale, the partial eclipse of the sun starts at sunrise over the South Pacific Ocean, and then the moon’s penumbral shadow moves eastward across the globe, to finally end at sunset nearly four hours later over the South Atlantic Ocean.
The animation and map below help illustrate the February 15 eclipse path. In the animation, every place within the moving gray shadow can see varying degrees of a partial solar eclipse.
From South America, this partial solar eclipse happens in the late afternoon on February 15, placing the sun low in the west at eclipse time. The farther south you live in South America, the deeper the partial solar eclipse.
For your convenience, we list the local times of the eclipse – plus eclipse magnitude (percentage of the sun’s diameter covered over by the moon) and eclipse obscuration (percentage of solar disk eclipsed by the moon) – for a few localities below:
Eclipse times for South America (February 15, 2018)
Partial eclipse begins: 18:49 (6:49 p.m.) local summer time
Maximum (greatest) eclipse: 19:16 (7:16 p.m.) local summer time
Partial eclipse ends: 19:42 (7:42 p.m.) local summer time
Eclipse magnitude: 16.5%
Eclipse obscuration: 7.7%
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Partial eclipse begins: 18:37 (6:37 p.m.) local standard time
Maximum (greatest) eclipse: 19:13 (7:13 p.m.) local standard time
Partial eclipse ends: 19:47 (7:47 p.m.) local standard time
Eclipse magnitude: 7.6%
Eclipse obscuration: 2.4%
Stanley, Falkland Islands
Partial eclipse begins: 17:46 (5:46 p.m.) local summer time
Maximum (greatest eclipse): 18:42 (6:42 p.m.) local summer time
Partial eclipse ends: 19:34 (7:34 p.m.) local summer time
Eclipse magnitude: 39.8%
Eclipse obscuration: 27.7%
What causes a solar eclipse?
Although the moon can only eclipse the sun at new moon, the new moon more often than not swings to the north or south of the solar disk – meaning no solar eclipse.
In 2018, for instance, we have 12 new moons but only three solar eclipses (February 15, July 13 and August 11), all of which are partial. Last month, on January 17, the new moon passed north of the sun; and next month, on March 17, the new moon will swing south of the sun.
This month, on February 15, 2018, the new moon doesn’t line up well enough with the sun to give us a total solar eclipse. The moon clips the southern part of the solar disk, so it’s only a partial solar eclipse for the far southern regions in the Southern Hemisphere.
Bottom line: Information – times, maps and more – for the partial solar eclipse of February 15, 2018.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.