Solar eclipses: When is the next one?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a shadow over Earth. A solar eclipse can only take place at the phase of new moon, when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth and its shadows fall upon Earth’s surface. But whether the alignment produces a total solar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse or an annular solar eclipse depends on several factors, all explained below.

The fact that an eclipse can occur at all is a fluke of celestial mechanics and time. Since the moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago, it has been gradually moving away from Earth (by about 1.6 inches, or 4 centimeters per year). Right now the moon is at the perfect distance to appear in our sky exactly the same size as the sun, and therefore block it out. But this is not always true.

When is the next solar eclipse?

A NASA map of the path the partial solar eclipse of April 30, 2022 will take across the Pacific Ocean, Antarctica and South America. (Image credit: Fred Espenak/NASA)

The next solar eclipse will be a partial solar eclipse on April 30, 2022. It will be the first of two partial solar eclipses in 2022; the second will occur on Oct. 25. We won’t see another total solar eclipse until 2023.