Academic English

“A Rare Solar Eclipse”

Level: Topic: Speakers: Length:
difficult solar eclipses man 02:15

Pre-Listening Exercise

What is the difference between an annular and total solar eclipse? When will the next eclipse of each type occur? What are the best ways to view a solar eclipse? Use different types of search resources to find this information.


“eleventh hour” = at the last possible moment
The professor arrived at the eleventh hour with the protective glasses to view the solar eclipse.”

“all eyes are on something” = everyone is watching something
All eyes were on the night sky in anticipation of the meteor shower.”

Listening Exercise

A. Listen to the recording and answer the questions.

What type of solar eclipse occurred on December 25, 2000?

On December 25, 2000, many people across North America received a rare Christmas treat when the moon passed in front of the sun resulting in a partial solar eclipse.

The eclipse is so unique because of its _____.

What made this particular solar eclipse unique was that this event has occurred on December twenty-fifth only 30 times during the past 5000 years, the last time in 1954.

The most likely audience for this news report are _____.

Novice observers, of course. All of the information in the recording are very basic details that would be familiar to intermediate or avid skywatchers.

You can view the solar eclipse by using ____.

You can watch an eclipse by projecting the sun's image on a piece of paper either by using a telescope, or easier yet, by creating a pinhole in a piece of paper and viewing the result on another piece of paper, thus called a pinhole projector.

The next solar eclipse on Christmas Day will take place in _____.

In case you didn't catch this last spectacular eclipse on December twenty-fifth, 2000, there's no need to fret. Your posterity can record the next eclipse on Christmas in the year 2307, but only if they're visiting the west coast of Africa for the holidays.

Post-Listening Exercise

Using search engines again, find out when the next solar eclipse (annular, partial, or total will occur in your area. How often do they occur around the world and how can you observe them safely? Anciently, how did people respond to this natural wonder?