Annular Solar Eclipses
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AKA a “Ring of Fire” eclipse, they occur when the Moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun’s, blocking most of the Sun’s light and causing the Sun to look like an annulus (ring).
The next annular solar eclipse will be visible in western parts of the United States, Mexico, and several Central American and South American countries on October 14, 2023 at 15:03 UTC. Mark your calendars!
Photo Credit: Stefan Seip
The “Ring of Fire” Eclipse
A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth, fully or partially blocking the Sun’s light in some areas.
Because the moon is farther away from Earth, it seems smaller and does not block the entire view of the sun. When the Moon comes just shy of completely blocking out the Sun a bright ring or annulus is visible. This is a special kind of partial eclipse, an annular eclipse.
During an annular eclipse, the Moon is far enough away from Earth that the Moon appears smaller than the Sun in the sky. Since the Moon does not block the entire view of the Sun, it will look like a dark disk on top of a larger, bright disk. This creates what looks like a ring of fire around the Moon.
Credit: NASA, Music Provided By Killer Tracks: “Bring Me Up” – Kampe Wikstrom
CREDIT: Don Davis under contract to Rice University, paid for by the NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium, and are copyright Rice University
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
Here’s a peak at what an annular eclipse looks like if viewing with solar glasses or a filtered eye piece.
Annular Eclipse filtered view – animation shows filtered eyepiece view of an annular eclipse but with only the black background (i.e. view with eclipse glasses on)
Annular Eclipse closeup view – animation shows the filtered eyepiece view with the clouds moving with halo rainbows. Like one might see by holding a piece of solar filter against the sky. Sky darkens during annularity.