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How Often Do Total Solar Eclipses Occur? | Almanac.com

How Often Do Total Solar Eclipses Occur?

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The total solar eclipse of November 14, 2012, as seen from aboard the cruise ship Paul Gauguin in the South Pacific near New Caledonia. This sequence runs from lower right to upper left. During the partial phases before and after totality, the camera lens was covered by a safe solar filter. No filter was used during totality, which is about as bright as the full Moon and just as safe to look at. The background is an unfiltered, wide-field view of the ocean and sky during totality, showing sunrise/sunset colors along the horizon.

Photo Credit
Rick Fienberg/TravelQuest International/Wilderness Travel

The frequency and rarity of a total solar eclipse

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The 2024 Old Farmer's Almanac

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A total eclipse’s rarity adds to its allure. For any given place on Earth, a total eclipse of the Sun appears just once every 375 years. But that interval is just the average. Let’s explore how often a total solar eclipse occurs where you live.

How Often Does a Total Solar Eclipse Occur?

A total solar eclipse is visible from somewhere on Earth about every 18 months. However, many of these events can be seen only from remote locales where travel is difficult. See the Almanac’s Eclipse Calendar for the upcoming year.

A better question is: How often is a total solar eclipse visible from any given location, such as the town where you live?

For any given place on Earth, a solar totality appears just once each 375, on average. Here and there, a few odd places enjoy two totalities in a single decade while others must cool their heels for more than a millennium. 

By chance, some locations are treated to total solar eclipses only a few years apart.

  • In the last 100 years, some areas have been in the path of multiple eclipses: New England, for example, saw five. 
  • In New York City, the last total solar eclipse was in 1925.
  • Chicago has not seen a total solar eclipse in the last 100 years.
  • On the west coast, San Diego was last eclipsed in 1923.
  • The city of Los Angeles is in the midst of a “dry spell” of more than 1,500 years without a total solar eclipse.
  • The location with the longest dry spell is near Tucson; the last solar eclipse was in the year 797.

Total Eclipse Interval Between Major Cities

For those who are curious as to how long one must wait between total solar eclipses, I put together a list of North American cities, and the current interval between totalities to show how great the variation is between them!

Total Eclipse Interval Between Major Cities

Location

Most recent totality

Next totality

Years between eclipses

Anchorage, AK

1943, February 4

2399, August 2

456.5

Atlanta, GA

1778, June 24

2078, May 11

299.9

Boston, MA

1959, October 2

2079, May 1

119.6

Calgary, Alberta

1869, August 7

2044, August 23

175.0

Chicago, IL

1806, June 6

2205, July 17

399.1

Dallas, TX

1623, October 23

2024, April 8

401.5

Denver, CO

1878, July 29

2045, August 12

167.0

Halifax, Nova Scotia

1970, March 7

2079, May 1

109.1

Honolulu, HI

1850, August 7

2252, December 31

402.4

Houston, TX

1259, October 17

2200, April 14

940.5

Las Vegas, NV

1724, May 22

2207, November 20

483.5

Los Angeles, CA

1724, May 22

3290, April 1

1,565.9

Mexico City, Mexico

1991, July 11

2261, December 22

270.4

Miami, FL

1752, May 13

2352, February 16

599.8

Montreal, Quebec

1932, August 31

2024, April 8

91.6

New Orleans, LA

1900, May 28

2078, May 11

178.0

New York, NY

1925, January 24

2079, May 1

154.3

Phoenix, AZ

1806, June 16

2205, July 17

399.1

St. Louis, MO

1442, July 7

2017, August 21

575.1

San Francisco, CA

1424, June 26

2252, December 31

828.5

Seattle, WA

1860, July 18

2645, May 17

784.8

Toronto, Ontario

1142, August 22

2144, October 26

1,002.2

Washington, DC

1451, June 28

2200, April 14

748.8

Winnipeg, Manitoba

1979, February 26

3356, September 16

1,377.6

But the real reason to do everything in one’s power to see a total eclipse of the Sun: It’s nature’s most awesome experience. Surveys of backyard astronomers and naturalists show that most people are swept into awe by a brilliant comet, which happens every 15 to 20 years on average. And also by a bright display of the Northern Lights. One might include the rare bolide or exploding meteor. But the very best of them all is a solar totality. One is crossing a large swath of the U.S. plus a few small parts of Canada in about a year.

See my 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Guide!

About The Author

Bob Berman

Bob Berman, astronomer editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob is the world’s most widely read astronomer and has written ten popular books. Read More from Bob Berman