Eclipse season is done. Thursday’s annular solar eclipse—mostly seen as a partial “bite” out of the Sun by the Moon, though to some as a “ring of fire”—was the second and final eclipse of the current season.
Wait. Eclipses come in seasons? Yes—and the next one beginning on November 19, 2021 is going to be way more spectacular than the one Earth just experienced.
Here’s everything you need to know—and the dates for your diary—of 2021’s second eclipse season, and the celestial mechanics behind these dramatic periods:
What is an ‘eclipse season’ and why do two eclipses follow each other?
Every 173 days an eclipse season begins. They last between 31 and 37 days and occur when the Moon is lined-up perfectly to intersect the ecliptic—the apparent path of the Sun through our daytime sky and the plane of Earth’s orbit of the Sun.
The Moon’s orbit of Earth is tilted by 5º to the ecliptic, so it must cross the ecliptic twice each month, but that tilt means it usually doesn’t align with the Sun and the Earth.
However, when it does align to cause a solar or lunar eclipse, it’s still precise enough a couple of weeks later to cause the other type of eclipse.
When is the next eclipse season?
2021’s second eclipse season begins with the full Moon of November 19, 2021 with a partial lunar eclipse that’s so nearly a total lunar eclipse. It will be visible in North America.
It will be followed on the next New Moon—December 4, 2021—with that most dramatic kind of eclipse of all, a total lunar eclipse.
What will the ‘Frosty Half-Blood Moon Eclipse’ look like?
November 19, 2021’s full Moon—known colloquially as the “Frosty Moon” is technically a partial lunar eclipse since the whole of the Moon won’t enter Earth’s shadow in space. But it will be so close! In fact, 97% will turn red as seen from North and South America, Australia and Asia.
Lunar eclipses can only occur at full Moon, when the Earth is between the Moon and the Sun.
Will it look at good as May’s “Super Flower Blood Moon,” which lasted for just 15 minutes? Probably not quite, but it’s going to be an awesome sight.
What will December’s total solar eclipse look like?
Occurring low in the sky above the floating icebergs of the Wedell Sea on December 4, 2021, this total solar eclipse in Antarctica won’t be witnessed by many, though over 20 cruise ships are planning to be in the area.
Solar eclipses can only occur at New Moon, when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun.
They’ll feel the Moon’s shadow rush towards them and the temperature drop while the light plunges to twilight. With naked eyes in clear skies they’ll see the last ray of sunlight form a beautiful “diamond ring” around the Moon before the big reveal of the Sun’s delicate ice-white corona spraying into space.
Disclaimed: I am the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.