There's a total solar eclipse today - here's what that means and when the next one is

A total solar eclipse will grace the planet today (14 December), with vast areas of the Earth plunged into temporary darkness as the Moon passes in front of the Sun.

It's the only total eclipse of the Sun of 2020, and those in the path of totality – where the Sun appears to be perfectly obscured by the Moon – will be witness to over two minutes of darkness.

Here is everything you need to know.

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    Will the eclipse be visible from the UK?

    Unfortunately, the eclipse won’t be visible from the UK. We won’t even get to see a partial eclipse, where the Sun is only partly obscured by the Moon, giving it a crescent-like appearance.

    South America is where you need to be to see the total eclipse in its full glory, specifically in the countries of Argentina and Chile, which will be subject to the greatest effects of the phenomenon.

    ‘Totality’ will be visible in the Araucanía and Los Ríos regions of Chile, and the Northern Patagonia region of Argentina.

    Chile has been spoiled for total eclipses recently, and the country was last witness to one only last year on 2 July 2019.

    How can I watch the eclipse online?

    Though the eclipse won’t be visible from the UK, there are still plenty of ways to experience the celestial event, including through live streams beamed over the internet.

    NASA will be broadcasting the eclipse, with views from Chile beginning at 2.40pm in the UK.

    To view NASA’s live stream, click here

    What time is the eclipse?

    Partial effects of the eclipse will be able to be seen from 1.33pm UK time (Photo: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

    Though the time frame during which the Sun will be hidden behind our planet's only natural satellite is relatively short, the eclipse’s effect will be observable for quite some time.

    The Moon will begin to eclipse the sun at 1.33pm UK time, (views of this stage of the eclipse may be temperamental on any live streams, as you’ll need to be thousands of miles out into the Pacific Ocean to see it in person).

    The first people to see the total phase of the eclipse will be able to do so from 2.32pm (though they will still need to be out in the middle of the ocean).

    The stage of maximum eclipse – when we’ll see those spectacular views of the Moon enveloped in a fiery halo – will come a few hours later, and is expected to happen at 4.13pm UK time.

    The effects of the eclipse will slowly tail off from then, with views of a partial eclipse expected to be visible until 6.53pm.

    When is the next total solar eclipse in the UK?

    You should never look directly at the sun, and only observe eclipses safely through special equipment (Photo: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)

    There isn’t too long to wait until the next solar eclipse that will be visible from the UK, although there won’t be a ‘total’ eclipse for quite some time.

    A partial eclipse on 10 June 2021 will cast a shadow of the mainland UK with around 30% of the Sun covered in the south, and about 50% in the far north, while a similar eclipse on 29 March 2025 will give the UK an eclipse of between 40% in the south-east, and 60% in the north-west.

    The next time the UK will see anything close to a total solar eclipse won’t be until 2026, when on 12 August the skies will be noticeably darkened as the Moon covers over 90% of the Sun close to sunset.

    While that eclipse will still be a spectacular site, it won’t be until 2090 that Britain sees 100% coverage of the Sun during an eclipse: mark 23 September on your calendars for that one.

    The next total solar eclipse will occur in just a year’s time on 4 December 2021, but will only be visible in Antarctica.

    A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, the Scotsman