Upcoming lunar and solar eclipses in South Africa

Man has an enduring fascination with the heavens. It’s been more than 400 years since Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus produced a predictive mathematical model of a heliocentric system, and still hundreds of thousands of spectators gathered across the US to witness a total solar eclipse on Monday.

The excitement spilled over onto social media platforms, with engagement about the eclipse dominating the trending list for hours on X.

Conversation on the eclipse is as BRIGHT as ever. So far — 1.2 million posts on X totalling 300 million impressions! The conversation is growing 38% every hour! — Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X

So, what are the different types of eclipses that occur in nature and when can South Africans expect their next showing?

An eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon are orientated in a straight – or roughly straight – line configuration. Solar eclipses occur when the moon moves between the Earth and the sun and between two and five solar eclipses occur each year.

There are three types of solar eclipse – total, partial and annular. Total solar eclipses, like the one which passed over certain parts of the US yesterday, occur when the moon completely covers the sun. The area where a total solar eclipse can be seen is usually limited to a narrow belt about 160km wide and 16 000km long. People in areas outside of this belt may be able to see a partial eclipse. An annular solar eclipse is when the moon covers the centre of the sun while its outer edges are in view. This “ring of fire” is called an annulus.

Lunar eclipses are more common than solar eclipses. The next total lunar eclipse visible from South Africa will occur in September 2025

A lunar eclipse, on the other hand, occurs when the Earth comes between the moon and the sun. In this scenario, the Earth’s shadow is cast over the moon, darkening the moon’s appearance, which is usually brightened by reflecting light from the sun. Lunar eclipses also have three types: total, partial and penumbral.

Read: This week’s Joburg earthquake ‘not unusual’ – expect more

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon entirely passes into the Earth’s umbra, the central part of the planet’s shadow. A partial lunar eclipse occurs if the moon only partially passes into the planet’s umbra. The outer part of the Earth’s shadow is called the penumbra, and a penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes exclusively into this portion of the Earth’s shadow without moving into the umbra.

Lunar eclipse Date
Partial 18 September 2024
Penumbral 14 March 2025
Total 7 September 2025
Partial 28 August 2026
Penumbral 20 February 2027
Partial 12 January 2028
Partial 6 July 2028
Total 31 December 2028
Total 26 June 2029
Total 20 December 2029
Partial 15 June 2030
Penumbral 9 December 2030
Penumbral 7 May 2031
Total 25 April 2032
Total 18 October 2032
Total 14 April 2033
Penumbral 3 April 2034
Partial 28 September 2034
Solar eclipse Date
Partial 17 February 2026
Partial 6 February 2027
Partial 5 December 2029
Total 25 November 2030
Partial 21 May 2031
Partial 9 May 2032

The tables above show the eclipses that will be visible from South Africa in the next 10 years and when they will occur. As can be seen, solar eclipses are much less frequent than lunar eclipses, with the next total solar eclipse visible from the region expected on 25 November 2030.  – © 2024 NewsCentral Media

Get breaking news alerts from TechCentral on WhatsApp