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10 Things about the April 2023 Total Solar Eclipse

When is it, where does it happen, and how can you watch it? Plus, what makes the April 20 solar eclipse so special?

The diamond ring effect, as seen from San José de Jáchal, Argentina, July 2019.

The Moon will hide the Sun for up to 1 minute or so on April 20, 2023.

©Anne Buckle/timeanddate

1. A Once-Every-Ten-Years Eclipse

On April 20, 2023, the Moon will cross the face of the Sun, and a solar eclipse will sweep through Australia and South-East Asia.

The total phase of the eclipse, where the Moon blocks all of the Sun’s disk, is visible along a narrow path of totality that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.

At either end of this path, the curvature of the Earth increases the distance between the Moon and the observer. The Moon is then too small the cover the Sun completely. As a result, in these locations (which are out over the ocean), the eclipse will appear to be annular, where the Sun forms a ring around the Moon.

This is called an annular-total eclipse or hybrid eclipse. It’s a little unusual, but not particularly rare. The last one occurred in November 2013; the next one will happen in November 2031.

A map showing the solar eclipse of April 20, 2023.
A map showing the solar eclipse of April 20, 2023.

The path of totality for the April 2023 solar eclipse is shown by the very narrow, dark strip running through the center of this map. At the point where it meets Australia, the path of totality is a mere 40 km (25 miles) wide. The large areas of the map covered by lighter shading will experience a partial eclipse.


2. Who Gets Totality?

The path of totality passes over three countries: Australia, East Timor, and Indonesia.

In Australia, the path of totality just nicks a small peninsula called North West Cape, about 1100 km (700 miles) north of Perth.

A partial solar eclipse—where the Moon covers some, but not all, of the Sun—will be visible across the rest of Australia and a big portion of South-East Asia. In Perth, 71% of the Sun will be covered by the Moon. In Sydney, this figure will be 10%; in Singapore, it will be 16%.

3. A Golden Era for Australia

This eclipse kicks off a remarkable run of five total solar eclipses for Australia in 15 years:

4. A Partial Eclipse for Almost One in Ten People Worldwide

According to our population figures—calculated using raw population data from the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University—a grand total of around 375,000 Australians, Timorese, and Indonesians live in the path of totality for the April 20 eclipse.

This is a relatively small number—roughly the same as the number of people who live in the city of Bakersfield, California.

How many people live in the area of the globe covered by a partial eclipse? That’s a completely different number: around 693 million people, roughly 9% of the world’s population.

5. Crowds Are Expected in North West Cape

Australia’s North West Cape is sparsely populated. Only 3000 or so people live in Exmouth, the largest town on the peninsula. However, thousands of visitors are expected to flock to the town for the eclipse.

Exmouth will have 58 seconds of totality on April 20, starting at 11:29 in the morning, local time.

Vlaming Head Lighthouse in Exmouth, Western Australia

Vlamingh Head Lighthouse, about 14 km (9 miles) to the north of Exmouth, looks out over the Indian Ocean.


6. Totality Passes Over an Observatory Dedicated to Studying the Sun

Learmonth Solar Observatory is located about 30 km (18 miles) south of Exmouth. Jointly operated by the Australian government and the United States Air Force (USAF), it monitors emissions from the Sun that can affect things like radio communication, satellites, and aurora.

“The space environment is much harsher than people realize,” says Major Coy Fischer, who spent two years at Learmonth as the USAF Unit Commander.

7. A Hybrid Eclipse Can Produce a Unique Sight

During a hybrid eclipse, it’s not possible for a single observer to see both a total and an annular eclipse. It’s either one or the other, depending on where the observer is along the eclipse path.

There are, however, points where the Moon appears to be exactly the same size as the Sun. What does that look like? During a hybrid eclipse midway between Iceland and Greenland on October 3, 1986, astronomer Glenn Schneider took a photo from a plane flying at 12,000 meters (40,000 feet).

The October 1986 hybrid eclipse, as seen by Dr. Glenn Schneider from an aircraft at 12,000 meters (40,000 feet).

Glenn Schneider’s unique photo of the 1986 hybrid eclipse. “Clearly, this eclipse was not annular,” he says. At the same time, “Some have argued it was not total as the photosphere was never instantaneously completely extincted.”

©Glenn Schneider

8. This New Moon Precedes the End of Ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan—a time of fasting and prayer for Muslims around the world—starts and finishes with the appearance of a Waxing Crescent Moon after the New Moon phase.

This year, depending on the country, Ramadan began on March 23 or 24, following the New Moon of March 21.

It will end—again, depending on the country—on April 21, 22, or 23, following the New Moon of April 20. This is the same New Moon that will produce the solar eclipse across Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.

9. Watch the Eclipse LIVE

As always, we’ll be streaming the eclipse LIVE. Steffen Thorsen—timeanddate’s CEO and Chief Eclipse Chaser—will join Matt Woods of Perth Observatory at a site around 20 km (13 miles) south of Exmouth.

Weather permitting, Steffen and Matt’s telescopes and cameras will capture about 1 minute and 3 seconds of totality. Our LIVE show starts at 01:30 UTC on April 20.

This is the sixth time that timeanddate has teamed up with Perth Observatory for an eclipse live stream.

timeanddate’s Anne Buckle checks her eclipse glasses ahead of the July 2019 total solar eclipse in San José de Jáchal, Argentina.

Anne Buckle, one of the hosts of timeanddate’s LIVE shows, demonstrates the way to watch a solar eclipse.

©Anibal Heredia

10. As with Every Solar Eclipse, Eye Safety Is Important

Be serious about eye safety: NEVER look at the Sun without proper eye protection.