For daily wit & wisdom, sign up for the Almanac newsletter.
View a total solar eclipse LIVE from South America this July 2, 2019. Bob Berman is traveling to observatories in Chile to report on the eclipse. But you don’t have to live on the path of totality to watch what Bob calls the greatest celestial spectacle! Tune in Tuesday afternoon for live coverage. Learn more!
The Greatest Spectacle
Ever since 1974, I’ve been urging, begging, and cajoling my readers and students to experience the greatest spectacle the human eye can behold. Sure, a major display of the Northern Lights is not chopped liver. And if you’ve ever seen an exploding meteor you’ve never forgotten it.
There are all sorts of earthly destinations travel writers insist should not be missed. If you’ve seen the Great Pyramids, Machu Picchu, the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal, the Atacama desert, the Himalayas, and maybe even rented a houseboat on Lake Powell, is there any sight that can top all these?
From personal experience, I can honestly answer with a resounding “Yes.”
Not a lunar eclipse. And certainly not a partial solar eclipse.
Only solar totality offers mind-twisting experiences.
Video Credit: Matt Francis. Taken during the last total solar eclipse, on a tour led by Bob Berman, August 21, 2017 in Casper, Wyoming. This is the first time in history that a recording of a total solar eclipse shows material streaming out of the Sun!
The 2019 Total Solar Eclipse
This time, the total solar eclipse can be viewed from South America. The path of totality runs through parts of Chile and Argentina.
There are two ways to see a total solar eclipse today: Live/travel to the path of totality. Or, watch it from one of many webcasts and remote telescopes from the comfort of your own home.
I’ll be leading a tour to Chile. It’s my 10th time leading groups to solar totalities. Egypt, Australia, Eastern India, Romania—my eclipse tours started in 1970. Thanks to extraordinary good luck or blessings, our groups were clouded out of none of them. My good fortune must end sometime and I hope it won’t be this coming week.
For July 2, I have secured a private mountaintop observatory in Chili just for our tour group of 40 people. The weather prospects this time are about 50/50. If I could press a button so that the group sees the eclipse but I miss it, I would certainly do it.
This is the only celestial event that makes people weep. Happens every time. Not every person, but some of them. And, who wouldn’t be moved?
Look for flames leaping like pink geysers from the Sun’s edge with the naked eye.
Watch the Moon discernibly moving in its orbit like in a sci-fi movie.
See the sun’s atmosphere, its ultra-hot corona, splay far across the sky, displaying intricate filamentary structure, making visible the Sun’s awesome magnetic field, the largest structure in the solar system.
Discover the sky’s brighter stars and planets emerge from the inky black cosmos, which only happens when the Sun is blocked.
It’s all too much.
How to View the 2019 Eclipse Live
I assume you’re not going to Chile. Fortunately, the digital age offers offers a number of live webcasts. Some webcasts look straight through a telescope lens; you are seeing the eclipse in real time as if you are looking through the telescope yourself.
In North America, you can start watching in the afternoon. Check out any one of these excellent livestreams to see the total solar eclipse—from the comfort of your own home:
The Exploratorium (San Francisco) will offer free live coverage of the total solar eclipse, starting July 2, 2019, at 4:00 pm EDT. Check out the Exploratorium eclipse page.
Slooh: Bob Berman partners with the folks at Slooh and their telescope partners in Chile. This Slooh webcast begins at 12:15 PDT, 3:15 p.m. EDT, and 1915 GMT. Slooh access requires paid membership; the starter ”Slooh Apprentice” subscription—at $4.95 a month—also allows members to robotically control a global network of telescopes and so much more.
But perhaps you’re wondering where and how the next few total solar eclipses can be observed. You probably know you can’t just stay at home and wait for one to come to you; for any given location, they only happen every 360 years on average. Here’s what will happen the next five years.
The next totality after the July 2 event will be December 14, 2020 in Patagonia. Extreme southern South America.
After that, the next is even farther south, on December 4, 2021 when the moon’s shadow falls exclusively in the Antarctic. A tough eclipse with dismal weather prospects, and I may pass on it.
There are no solar totalities in 2022. Then we’ve got April 20, 2023 in the sea off Australia and Bali.
And that brings us to April 8th 2024 when the moon’s shadow will sweep across Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Burlington and then across New Hampshire. People in the Northeast can drive to that one!
That’s the story for the next 5 years. Please consider going to one total solar eclipse! They won’t get more convenient until August 12, 2045 when the shadow sweeps over Disney World. The Moon rarely makes it easy.