How to read an eclipse map, starting with Sunday’s partial solar eclipse

Can you read an eclipse map? Learn how with eclipse cartographer Michael Zeiler

To chase eclipses, you first have to master eclipse maps. So who better to ask than eclipse cartographer Michael Zeiler ( &, who offers this excellent map of Sunday’s event.

It makes it easy to see exactly what an observer in any one location will see, with the % obscuration given for any one location in daylight.

However, there are some zones where it’s difficult to tell what exactly would be visible.

Here at the edges of the eclipse path, things can get complicated. So asked Michael to explain what an observer would see from a few problematic zones.

How to read an eclipse map

Zone 1: “Here, the sun barely rises above the horizon and days are very short,” says Michael. “The eclipse is in progress at sunrise, and sunset arrives before the end of the eclipse. So the entire (short) day is in partial eclipse.”

Zone 2: “At this point of intersection, you will see the eclipsed sun for an instant at sunrise, then it will be over.”

Zone 3: “The partial eclipse will be nearly over at sunrise and visible for a few minutes.”

Zone 4: “Near sunset, the partial eclipse begins but will be visible for only a few minutes before sunset.”

Zone 5 & 6: “Normal daytime is seen here, but the partial eclipse will not be visible. The penumbra misses the sun at this point.”

Thanks Michael!

Image credit: Michael Zeiler,