After Dark Online: Celestial—Solar Eclipse

Thursday, December 10, 2020 • 7:00 p.m. PST

Adults Only (18+)

Free online event: Join below or via YouTube or Facebook

On December 14, the shadow of the moon will cross Earth in a rare event called a total solar eclipse. For a small portion of Earthly observers—in this case, those in a narrow strip across South America—the moon will be perfectly lined up between our planet and the Sun, casting an eerie darkness and offering a magnificent view of the solar corona. Join us to learn more about this fascinating alignment and prime yourself for the upcoming eclipse.

This program features:

Experiencing Totality 
This time-lapse audio collage of the 2017 total solar eclipse captures the wondrous reactions of viewers under the shadow. 

What is a Solar Eclipse? 
Join Exploratorium astronomer Isabel Hawkins and Exploratorium educator Liliana Blanco as they explain the celestial mechanics of a total solar eclipse.

Being There with Isabel Hawkins
Exploratorium astronomer Dr. Isabel Hawkins describes the feeling of witnessing a total solar eclipse and shares her experience of the community created around the shared experience. 

Eclipse Montage 1998–2019
A highlight reel of the Exploratorium’s coverage of total solar eclipses for the last two decades.

Broadcasting from the Path of Totality with Rob Semper
Exploratorium Chief Science Officer Dr. Rob Semper shares the history of the Exploratorium’s broadcasting of total solar eclipses and the research, technology, talent, and luck that make it possible.

How to Predict Eclipses
This short animation illustrates how a viewer on earth can begin to predict eclipse occurrences through first-person observation. 

More to Explore:

Learn more about what makes an eclipse, how to watch them, and what a live sonification sounds like!

Telescope Sonification with the Kronos Quartet
Watch the Kronos Quartet perform live during the 2017 total solar eclipse with a sonification composed by Wayne Grim.

Why Eclipses Happen
When the moon passes in front of the Sun and blocks it completely, it casts a shadow onto our planet that plunges areas into a darkness that feels like nighttime in midday. What causes this extraordinary phenomenon?

How to View a Solar Eclipse
If you ever want to view a solar eclipse—whether it’s total, annular, or partial—the first thing you must know is this: Never view the Sun with the naked eye or by looking through optical devices such as binoculars or telescopes!

What to See During an Eclipse
As the moon passes in front of the Sun, the eclipse goes through stages that provide an evolving spectacle, two plus hours of steadily changing views.


The movements and mechanics of the planets, moons, and stars create awesome effects for us observers on Earth. Predictable yet coincidental, these cycles among the stars lead to gravitational bulges, lunar alignments, and a turnaround of apparent motion. Join us this month as we explore these effects as opportunities for wonder and harbingers of future change.