What Time the Solar Eclipse of December 2021 Starts and How to Watch Live

A solar eclipse is due to occur this weekend and, although few people will get the chance to see it in person, NASA has said it will be hosting a livestream of the event—weather permitting.

The solar eclipse is due to take place tomorrow, December 4, and will reach its fullest point at 2:34 a.m. ET.

NASA states that the eclipse will be streamed on YouTube and at nasa.gov/live. The livestream will begin at 1:30 a.m. ET, courtesy of Theo Boris and Christian Lockwood of the JM Pasachoff Antarctic Expedition.

The eclipse won't be visible from North America or anywhere in the northern hemisphere. In fact, the only place where it will be possible to see the total eclipse in person will be Antarctica.

An animation of the eclipse's shadow and its predicted path around the Earth can be seen on TimeandDate.com, which shows that inhabitants of most countries will be unable to observe it directly.

Some people will be able to catch a partial glimpse, though. According to NASA, residents in parts of Saint Helena, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands, the Crozet Islands, the Falkland Islands, Chile, New Zealand and Australia might be able to see a partial solar eclipse on Saturday, depending on local weather.

It is never safe to look directly at the sun, so anyone viewing a solar eclipse in person must wear solar viewing or eclipse glasses. These are not the same as regular sunglasses, which are unsafe for viewing the sun.

Watching an Eclipse Safely

Looking directly at the sun can cause serious eye damage, since ultraviolet light burns a sensitive part of our eyes called the retina. Damage can occur in seconds and may permanently impair vision, according to Healthline.

More information on eye safety during a total solar eclipse can be found here.

Solar eclipses occur when the moon moves between the sun and the Earth. This causes the moon to block the sun's light for a short time, either partially or fully depending on where on the planet the eclipse is being observed.

During a total solar eclipse, parts of the Earth may turn as dark as night for a brief period of time. If one were to look towards the sun at this time, they would see the sun's corona—the outermost part of the sun's atmosphere—around the moon.

According to NASA, the next solar eclipse will take place on April 30, 2022. It will be a partial eclipse and should be visible from the southeast Pacific and southern South America.

Lunar eclipses happen when the Earth gets between the sun and the moon. This results in the Earth casting its own shadow on the moon, making the moon appear a dark red color in the sky.

The next lunar eclipse is due in May 2022, according to TimeandDate.com, and should be visible in North and South America as well as parts of Africa and Europe.

Update 12/03/2021, 12:15 p.m. ET: This article was updated to clarify that NASA will be showing the eclipse live and to add information on lunar eclipses.

Solar eclipse
A solar eclipse as seen from Madras, Oregon, in August 2017. Solar eclipses occur when the moon comes between the sun and the Earth. Rob Kerr/AFP / Getty