In this year 2020, Earth has witnessed eclipses a number of times, including both lunar and solar, about six (6) of them. The forthcoming would be the sixth and the last for this year, a total solar eclipse.
We witness solar eclipses or eclipse of the Sun not only because the New Moon gets positioned and aligned in-between Earth and the Sun. But because of the simple reason that the Sun’s diameter is approximately 400 times larger than the Moon. And Sun-Earth distance is also approximately 400 times the Earth-Moon distance. So from simple geometry, relative to the Earth, the Moon and the Sun appear to be the same size.
Now, whether it will be a total solar eclipse or annular solar eclipse will depend on the elliptical orbit of the Moon round the Earth. Apogee is the point of the orbit at which the moon is furthest away from Earth which is the one we see during annular solar eclipses. While Perigee is the case at which the moon is closest to Earth and at which point we observe a total solar eclipse, like the one which we are about to observe on December 14.
During total solar eclipses, as the Moon continues to transit, its shadow creates a path called the Path of Totality on the surface of the Earth. Regions around this path will observe Partial solar eclipse. And for any given point on the Earth which has witnessed a total solar eclipse, will see another round of it in the next 400 years.
This upcoming total solar eclipse dubbed the Great South America Total eclipse will make first appearance as a partial solar eclipse at the Southern Pacific Ocean by 1:34 p.m UTC and about one hour later, that is, at 2:32 pm UTC, the Moon’s umbra will fully emerge. Both will then proceed due East, touching some parts of South American Continent like: Chile and Argentina. And will come to a halt over the Southern Atlantic Ocean, of the coast of Southwest Africa at 6:53 p.m UTC.
The event can be viewed on several astronomy channels worldwide.
You can follow NASA guidelines on observing solar eclipses.
Wishing you all a favorable weather conditions.