The One Time Your Panels Won't Work

Total solar eclipses are rare. They happen when the moon is directly between Earth and the sun, completely blocking sunlight. The sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, but the sun is also 400 times farther away from Earth, meaning they look about the same size from our viewpoint. Eclipses occur periodically rather than every time the moon passes the sun because the moon’s slightly tilted orbit typically makes its shadow miss Earth. The moon’s orbit is also elliptical, so most of the time it is far enough away from Earth that it looks small and doesn’t entirely block the sun when passing in front of it. Total eclipses occur when the moon is closest to Earth, but even then, they usually happen over ocean or away from dense populations so not many people see it.

On average, total solar eclipses occur where you live once every 375 years. The last total solar eclipse in the US was in 1979. This once-in-a-lifetime celestial event will be one of the few times your solar panels won’t be able to collect energy from the sun’s rays during daylight hours. But don’t worry, it only lasts for a little while.