Wondering when the hoopla around the total solar eclipse will end?
Today’s eclipse wraps up for California viewers around 11:30 a.m., but the U.S. will experience another total solar eclipse in 2024, with more partial and total eclipses coming throughout the rest of the 21st century and beyond.
In point of fact, you’ll have to wait at least 500 million years for total solar eclipses to stop being a thing for whoever’s still on Earth at the time.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tells Mashable that tidal forces push the moon about 1.5 inches farther from the Earth each year. In time – a really long time, anywhere from 500 million to 1 billion years – the moon will be far enough away from Earth that it no longer fully covers the sun during a solar eclipse.
(Solar eclipses occur when the moon’s orbit brings it in front of the sun. You knew that, right?)
Earth will still experience partial eclipses, but total eclipses of the sun will be a relic of the distant past. Like “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” though the 1983 hit’s experiencing an eclipse-related resurgence with Bonnie Tyler set to perform it during, when else, the total eclipse this morning on a cruise ship from Florida.
In a 2015 “Ask an Astronomer” post on Cornell University’s website, an astronomer says the moon will stop moving away from the Earth in a mere 15 billion years. At that point, the Earth’s rate of rotation, the moon’s rate of rotation and the moon’s orbital period will all be in synch at about 55 days each. The moon will be around 1.6 times farther away from the Earth than it is now.