What's the Ring of Fire in the Sky?
Africa and Asia will experience a Ring of FIre Eclipse on Sunday, June 21st and Lowell Observatory's Dr. Jeff Hall explain exactly what that means.
A solar eclipse nicknamed the "ring of fire" will be visible in parts of Africa and Asia on June 21st. Dr. Jeff Hall from Lowell Observatory explains the cool factor of this fiery eclipse.
What will this eclipse look like and where will it be visible?
This is an annular eclipse, meaning the apparent disk of the Moon is too small to cover the Sun entirely, as it does during a total eclipse. This occurs because the Moon’s orbit is an ellipse, not a circle, and the apparent size of Moon therefore changes over the course of the month. For this eclipse, the Moon is a bit too far from us to completely block the Sun.
Annular eclipses are interesting but not especially dramatic without proper and safely outfitted binoculars or telescopes. To the eye, the light will get somewhat dusky and it will probably get noticeably cooler, but it won’t be particularly dark. It is entirely unsafe to look directly at an annular eclipse without protective eyewear like eclipse glasses.
All this said, a lot of people will see this one. It starts in Africa and makes its way east across the rather war-torn part of the Arabian peninsula, then across Pakistan and northern India, and finally across China and Taiwan before ending in the Pacific.
How often does an eclipse like this occur?
Eclipses are common – there are usually a couple of solar eclipses (total or annular) every year, and also a couple of lunar eclipses (total or penumbral). That said, a solar eclipse in any given spot on earth is relatively rare – perhaps only one every few centuries on average. But as we know, striking deviations from the average always occur in nature, even if rarely. Carbondale, Illinois got treated to the 2017 total solar eclipse, and they’re going to get hit again just 7 years later in 2024 – lucky folks!