Skip to main content

Exploratorium Resources for the Total Solar Eclipse on December 14th

Exploratorium Resources for the Total Solar Eclipse on December 14th



SAN FRANCISCO (December 9, 2020)—On Monday, December 14, 2020, beginning at 7:30 a.m. PST, the Exploratorium will feature a live telescope feed of the total solar eclipse visible from Chile, provided by a team from the Institute of Astrophysics, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. The live stream will be available on the Exploratorium’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Due to the rising number of COVID cases both in the US and in Chile, the Exploratorium made the difficult decision not to send a team to livestream the event this year. Learn more about our decision and eclipse-related resources we offer in this short video.

WHO:           The Exploratorium, working with the Institute of Astrophysics, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

WHAT:          Live telescope feed of the total solar eclipse

WHERE:       Exploratorium Facebook page, YouTube channel, or NASA's website

WHEN:         Monday, December 14, 2020, beginning 7:30 a.m. PST


The Exploratorium is also pleased to offer digital educational resources in support of the total solar eclipse. Learn about what happens during a solar eclipse and how often eclipses occur. Educational resources available from the Exploratorium:

  • PREMIERE ON 12/10: After Dark: Solar Eclipse. Learn more about this fascinating alignment and prime yourself for the upcoming eclipse in South America.
  • A video playlist that explores and explains many aspects of eclipses, including:
  • What is a solar eclipse? Join Isabel Hawkins and Liliana Blanco as they show how the moon, sun, and Earth align to create the cosmic coincidence that we see as a total solar eclipse. Video also available in Spanish.
  • Why don’t we have an eclipse every month? There are just two times a year in the Earth's orbit when there is a possibility of a total solar eclipse. Paul Doherty explains why.
  • How to predict eclipses? This video explores how eclipses can be predicted and investigates a repeating series of eclipses known as a Saros cycle.


5 things you probably didn't know about solar eclipses:

  • Earth is the only planet in our solar system from which you can witness a perfect total solar eclipse. A curious coincidence makes it possible: The Sun is 400 times the diameter of our moon, but it's also 400 times farther away from us—so both bodies appear to be the same size in the sky, and the moon perfectly covers the Sun.  If the moon were closer, it would block out both the Sun and its corona; farther away and it would not cover the Sun completely. No other planet has the right sized moon.
  • To produce a total eclipse, the Sun, moon, and Earth need to line up in a straight line. Astronomers call this syzygy.
  • During an eclipse the moon’s shadow races faster than the speed of sound across the Earth—more than 1,200 miles per hour.
  • Solar and lunar eclipses happen in pairs (sometimes even trios!). 
  • If you stood in one place and waited to see a total solar eclipse, you could wait for 300 years or more.


Staff experts are available for interviews about solar eclipses; please contact the Exploratorium Press Office to schedule an interview.

Isabel Hawkins, Ph.D., is an astronomer and educator. She spent 20 years as a researcher and science educator at the University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory, before coming to the Exploratorium. In 2009, Isabel received the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Klumpke-Roberts award for her work in astronomy education and public outreach. Available for interviews in Spanish.

Rob Semper, Ph.D., is the Chief Science Office at the Exploratorium, overseeing the science and science education work of the nonprofit. In 2018, Rob was selected as a member of the Federal STEM Education Advisory Panel. Other awards include APS Fellow 2019; AAAS Fellow, 2006; and the NSTA 2006 Faraday Science Communicator Award. Before joining the Exploratorium, Rob taught physics and conducted solid state, elementary particle and nuclear physics research. He received his PhD in solid-state physics from the Johns Hopkins University.

Ron Hipschman joined the Exploratorium in 1971, and he has worked as an exhibit developer, author, teacher, and webcast host over the years. He also hosts two ongoing lecture series: Full-Spectrum Science and Everything Matters. Ron has a B.A. in physics and an M.A. in physical science from San Francisco State University.

About the Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is a portal to the astonishing scientific phenomena that animate our world and shape our actions. We create extraordinary learning experiences that ignite curiosity, upend perceptions, and inspire brave leaps forward. Since 1969, the Exploratorium’s museum in San Francisco has been home to a renowned collection of exhibits that draw together science, art, and human perception, and that have changed the way science is taught. Our award-winning programs provide a forum for the public to engage with artists, scientists, policymakers, educators, and tinkerers to explore the world around them. We celebrate diversity of thought, inspired investigation, and collaboration across all boundaries.

Press Office