On Oct. 14, 2023, an annular solar eclipse will cross North, Central, and South America. Visible in parts of the United States, Mexico, and many countries in South and Central America, millions of people in the Western Hemisphere can experience this eclipse.
For NASA, this eclipse provides a unique opportunity to study the Sun, using this eclipse as a way to test and prepare scientific equipment for the total solar eclipse in April 2024. NASA will also launch sounding rockets during the eclipse to study changes in the atmosphere.
Through volunteering in citizen science projects, people all over North, Central, and South America can participate in scientific research during this eclipse.
- 2023 Annular Eclipse
- Information about the 2023 eclipse, including where and when the eclipse is, how to prepare, activities, and images.
- Annular Eclipse Safety
- Safety information about the eclipse, including eye safety and resources for other hazards.
- General Solar Eclipse
- General information about eclipses, including other upcoming eclipses, citizen science, and scientific information.
- NASA HEAT
- NASA Heliophysics Education Activation Team (NASA HEAT) provides resources and methods for informal and formal educators to incorporate heliophysics and eclipse content into their work.
- Eclipse Ambassadors – Off the Path Engagement
- Undergraduate students and amateur astronomers will engage their local communities, providing solar viewing glasses as well as context for underserved communities off the central paths.
- On Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, an annular solar eclipse will cross North, Central, and South America. It will be visible in parts of the United States, Mexico, and many countries in South and Central America.
- In the U.S., the annular solar eclipse begins in Oregon at 9:13 a.m. PDT and ends in Texas at 12:03 p.m. CDT.
- An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth while it is at its farthest point from Earth. Because the Moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller than the Sun and does not completely cover the star.
- This eclipse is often referred to as a “ring of fire”. Because the Moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller and does not block the entire face of the Sun. As a result, the Moon appears like a dark disk on top of a larger, bright disk.
- Because the Sun is never completely covered, observers must wear proper eye protection at all times while watching an annular eclipse.
- What you can see during an annular eclipse depends on the weather and the location from which you view it.
- Everyone in the contiguous United States, plus parts of Alaska, who are outside the path of annular eclipse, will experience a partial solar eclipse, where the Moon only partially covers the Sun.
- Everyone outside the path of annularity in Central America will experience a partial solar eclipse.
- Many people outside the path of annularity in South America will experience a partial solar eclipse.
- You need a clear view of the Sun and Moon to see the eclipse. However, even with cloud cover, the eerie daytime darkness associated with eclipses is still noticeable.
- To see all phases of an annular eclipse, you must view it from somewhere along the path of annularity: the locations on Earth from which the Moon will appear to pass across the center of the Sun.
- The next solar eclipse visible in the U.S. will be a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.
- The next annular solar eclipse visible in the contiguous U.S. will be on Feb. 5, 2046.
The Sun is never completely blocked by the Moon during an annular solar eclipse. Therefore, during an annular eclipse, it is never safe to look directly at the Sun without specialized eye protection designed for solar viewing. Safe solar viewing glasses, or “eclipse glasses”, are not regular sunglasses.
Viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.
Even during an annular eclipse, or during the partial phases before and after annularity, the Sun will be very bright. If you are watching an entire eclipse, you may be in direct sunlight for hours. Remember to wear sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing to prevent skin damage.
With so many people traveling, please check local and national advisories well ahead of time. Travelers planning to see the eclipse should plan well in advance. They should anticipate heavy traffic and crowded locations. It is best to book lodging as soon as possible and to prepare to have difficulties driving on the day of the eclipse. Travelers should make sure to bring food and water, and determine how to access a bathroom if they need wait out the traffic when they leave.
In addition to inspiring artists and musicians, eclipses have driven numerous scientific discoveries. For over a century, solar eclipses have helped scientists decipher the Sun’s structure and explosive events, find evidence for the theory of general relativity, and discover a new element, among other things.
During the total eclipse in 2024, NASA is funding five research initiatives. Three of those initiatives will also happen during the annular solar eclipse in October. In addition to those projects, three sounding rockets will be launched during the annular and total solar eclipses.
On the day of the annular eclipse, the NASA Sounding Rocket Program, in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, will launch three sounding rockets from NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The three sounding rockets are using identical instrumentation for their research. The first rocket will launch 35 minutes before peak eclipse, the second at the peak, and the third 35 minutes past peak. The goal of these launches is to characterize the effects of the eclipse shadow on the ionosphere. The team will launch another set of three rockets from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia for the 2024 total solar eclipse and they will refly almost all of the instrumentation from 2023.
During both the 2024 total solar eclipse and the annular solar eclipse in October, Nathaniel Frissell of The University of Scranton is inviting amateur or “ham” radio operators to participate in “Solar Eclipse QSO Parties,” when they will try to make as many radio contacts (“QSOs” in ham parlance) as they can with other operators in different locations. The radio operators will record how strong their signals are and how far they go to observe how the ionosphere changes during the eclipses.
During the upcoming eclipses, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Thangasamy Velusamy, educators at the Lewis Center for Education Research in Southern California, and participants in the center’s Solar Patrol citizen science program will observe solar “active regions” – the magnetically complex regions that form over sunspots – as the Moon moves over them. The Moon’s gradual passage across the Sun blocks different portions of the active region at different times, allowing scientists to distinguish light signals coming from one portion versus another. The team will use the 34-meter Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) to measure subtle changes to the radio emissions from active regions during both the 2023 annular and 2024 total eclipses.