How Rare Are Total Solar Eclipses… Really?

2017 Eclipse
Totality, as seen during the 2017 total solar eclipse. Credit: Shahrin Ahmad.

As April’s ‘Great North American Eclipse’ nears, here’s a look at eclipses in time and space.

It comes around every total solar eclipse, and I fully expect to hear it trotted out once again this year, leading up to the Great North American eclipse on April 8th, 2024.

It’s often repeated (usually around the time leading up to a total solar eclipse) that the syzygy of the Earth, Moon and Sun is special, allowing totality to occur. To be sure, eclipses are extraordinary and spectacular events, and standing in the shadow of the Moon during totality is a spectacle that shouldn’t be missed.

But just how rare are the circumstances we witness on Earth during totality across time and space?

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