• The longest duration for a total solar eclipse is 7.5 minutes.
  • A total solar eclipse is not noticeable until the Sun is more than 90 percent covered by the Moon. At 99 percent coverage, daytime lighting resembles local twilight.
  • Eclipse shadows travel at 1,100 miles per hour at the equator and up to 5,000 miles per hour near the poles.
  • The width of the Moon’s shadow is at most 170 miles wide.
  • The maximum number of solar eclipses (partial, annular, or total) is 5 per year.
  • There are at least 2 solar eclipses per year somewhere on the Earth.
  • A total eclipse can only happen during a new moon.
  • Total solar eclipses happen about once every year or two.
  • Nearly identical eclipses (total, annual, or partial) occur after 18 years and 11 days, or every 6,585.32 days (Saros Cycle).
  • From the Earth’s surface, the Sun’s corona (“crown”) can ONLY be seen during a total eclipse.
  • Every eclipse begins at sunrise at some point in its track and ends at sunset about half way around the world from the start point.
  • Partial solar eclipses can be seen 2,000 to 3,000 miles from the track of totality.
  • Before the advent of modern atomic clocks, studies of ancient records of solar eclipses allowed astronomers to detect a 0.001 second per century slowing down in Earth’s rotation.
  • Total solar eclipses happen because the Sun is near one of the nodes of the lunar orbit, and the Moon is near perigee at this node at the same time.
  • Annular solar eclipses happen because the Sun is near one of the nodes of the lunar orbit, and the Moon is near apogee at this node at the same time.
  • Shadow bands are often seen on the ground as totality approaches.
  • Light filtering through leaves on trees casts crescent shadows as totality approaches.
  • Local animals and birds often prepare for sleep or behave confusedly during totality.
  • Local temperatures can drop as much as 20 degrees during a total solar eclipse.
  • During totality, the horizon is illuminated in a narrow band of light, because an observer is seeing distant localities not under the direct umbra of the Moon’s shadow.