In less than three weeks, great swaths of North America will get the rare opportunity to witness a solar eclipse, the first to happen in the hyperconnected world of social media.
While the August 21 total solar eclipse will only be completely visible from some parts of the United States, a noticeable part of the sun will be in the moon’s shadow in the greater part of Mexico.
The astronomical event will be visible from within Mexican territory from 11:11am through 3:11pm (all times Central).
The best viewing will be from those states on the border with the U.S.: the northernmost regions of Baja California, Sonora, Coahuila, Chihuahua and Nuevo León will witness a 70% solar eclipse at about 12:30pm.
In the states of Tamaulipas, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Zacatecas, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Puebla, Tlaxcala, state of México, México City, Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo, the visibility of the eclipse visible will range from 25 to 50% between 1:00 and 1:30pm.
Finally, in Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero and Oaxaca only about one-quarter of the sun will be covered by the passing moon.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, totally or partially obscuring the latter. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the sun’s, blocking all direct sunlight, and turning day into darkness.
At the point of maximum eclipse, the August 21 phenomenon will last two minutes and forty seconds for observers under the path of total eclipse.
It is expected to be the best documented eclipse in history due to the advances of social media since the last one.
Just over 26 years ago, a similar phenomenon was visible from a large part of Mexico, with the path of total eclipse crossing the states of Baja California, Nayarit, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Oaxaca and Chiapas.
The July 11, 1991 eclipse lasted for six minutes and 53 seconds. There will not be a longer total eclipse until June 13, 2132, one that will be partially visible from Mexico.
But astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts won’t have to wait that long for other astronomical events: an annular eclipse will be visible from regions of Yucatán and Quintana Roo on October 14, 2023.
An annular eclipse occurs when the sun and moon are exactly in line with the Earth, but the apparent size of the moon is smaller than that of the sun. Hence the sun appears as a very bright ring, or annulus, surrounding the dark disk of the moon.
Another solar eclipse will take place on April 8, 2024, darkening the skies of Sinaloa, Coahuila and Durango.