You don't necessarily have to live on Earth to see a total solar eclipse, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better viewing point, even if you had a spaceship to take you around the solar system. The Earth's moon just happens to be in the perfect position and of the perfect size to completely block out the sun from the vantage point of Earth. It also orbits the Earth on the same plane as the sun, making a total eclipse possible. By contrast, even though Mars has two moons, you wouldn't see a total solar eclipse from its surface because those moons aren't big enough to completely obscure the sun. And even though our moon is slowly moving away from the Earth -- just as all celestial objects are moving away from one another as the universe expands -- you've got approximately 600 million years to catch a total solar eclipse before the moon gets too far away from Earth to make the sun seem to disappear.
A view of solar eclipses:
- As seen from Earth, a total solar eclipse occurs only once every one or two years and lasts no longer than seven and a half minutes.
- Earth is particularly well suited for viewing a total solar eclipse because our moon is roughly 400 times closer to Earth than the sun and its diameter is around 400 times smaller than that of the sun.
- Relatively identical solar eclipses occur on Earth every 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours. This is known as the Saros Cycle.