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Solar Eclipse Duration

How Long Does a Solar Eclipse Last?

It takes hours for the Moon to move completely between the Sun and Earth, but the time when the Sun is completely covered lasts no more than a couple of minutes for any given location. The longest amount of time of totality for the August 21, 2017 eclipse, the total phase will last a maximum of 2 minutes 41 seconds. The longest times for any eclipse can last up to seven minutes, with the difference dependent on the relative positions of the Moon and Earth in their orbits. On the Bowling Green campus of Western Kentucky University there will be just over one minute of totality. (Directions to WKU)

The time of totality is always longest at the center of the Moon’s shadow, decreasing for locations to the north and south of this center line. There is also a difference for those on the center line depending on location east to west. Western Kentucky is optimally situated for this eclipse and those on the center line near Hopkinsville will have the chance to experience fractions of a second more totality compared to anywhere else at the center of the path of totality.


In the animation below, the outline of the shadow of the moon as it moves across the surface of Earth is represented by the circle. Two observers are indicated, observer #1 is closer to the edge of the path and observer #2 is at the centerline. Because s/he is located where the widest part of the shadow is crossing, observer #2 experiences the shadow for more time than observer #1.Total Solar Eclipse Animation

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 Last Modified 5/27/16