Skip to navigationSkip to content

Millions of Americans will have a better view of the solar eclipse than astronauts in space

The 2015 view.
  • Akshat Rathi
By Akshat Rathi

Senior reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Today is one those rare times when even astronauts would prefer to be on Earth rather than in space. Millions of Americans will get a chance to enjoy a total solar eclipse, but astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will only be able to catch a partial one.

According to NASA’s calculations sent to the astronauts, the ISS orbit will pass through the moon’s shadow three times. The astronauts will be able to see the moon cover no more than 86% of the sun in any of those passes.


The astronauts have been briefed about which windows to look through to see the moon’s shadow on Earth and the moon covering up the sun. An image from the 1999 solar eclipse seen from the Mir space station may give you an idea of what the astronauts are likely to see on Earth during the event:

CNES/Jean-Pierre Haignere/EPA.
The 1999 total solar eclipse over Great Britain.

And there’s more upside for humans on Earth. During a brief window of time in Wyoming, spectators will be able to stand and watch the ISS transit over the partially eclipsed sun, followed by a total solar eclipse later.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.