A Rare But Beautiful 'Ring Of Fire' Solar Eclipse Will Adorn Our Skies This Weekend

A Rare But Beautiful 'Ring Of Fire' Solar Eclipse Will Adorn Our Skies This Weekend

The moon will partially obscure the sun, but since it won't cover the sun completely, a ring of fire will be formed.

Image Source: Getty Images/Sorin Furcoi

Stargazers in the Eastern Hemisphere are in for a visual treat this weekend as on June 21st, the moon will partially obscure the sun, but since it won't cover the sun completely, a ring of fire will form and that's exactly what we will get to witness, according to Science Alert. This is also known as the annular solar eclipse, and this rare phenomenon occurs because the moon is at its farthest point from the earth in its orbit. Thus, it appears smaller in our skies in comparison to the sun. This (not so) tiny difference in the size of the moon is the difference between annular eclipses and full solar eclipses. 


"Annular eclipses are similar to total eclipses in that the moon, Earth and sun are aligned so that the moon moves directly in front of the Sun as viewed from Earth," said Alex Young, associate director for science in the heliophysics science division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, according to CNN. "But a total eclipse does not happen, that is the moon does not completely block out the visible disk of the sun because the moon is farther away and so its apparent size in the sky is [slightly] smaller than the sun. This means that a tiny ring of an annulus of the solar disk is visible around the moon."


Solar eclipses occur about two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse, Young said. A lunar eclipse occurred on June 5 and the next one will be on July 5. The ring of fire dance will take place on a narrow "path of annularity" across Africa and Asia. The phenomenon will be visible at sunrise in the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then as a higher-in-the-sky spectacle in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Oman, Pakistan, India, Tibet, China, and Taiwan. Observers will be able to see the ring for about one minute, even though the entire eclipse will last for about 3.75 hours. and while that may not seem as much, that's honestly the most exciting part of it all. For exact timings in your locations, TimeandDate.com is your best bet.


"It's only two minutes, but it's so intense that you talk about it with your friends, family for the next month," said geophysicist Alexander Alin, who observed the 2019 event in person. While the ring of fire isn't a complete solar eclipse, you will still need to follow safety measures.  "Because the Sun is so incredibly bright, it is still too bright to look at with unprotected eyes," Young said. "You need safe solar viewing glasses or special filters for use with telescopes or binoculars." Make sure to not look at the sun's light with your naked eye as it can cause damage to your retinas and you do not want that. 


As for how a ring of fire compares to a solar eclipse, Fred Espenak, retired NASA astrophysicist and eclipse-chaser also known as 'Mr. Eclipse' says, "In rating the sheer beauty and grandeur of solar eclipses, a partial solar eclipse is a 3, an annular solar eclipse is a 7, and a total solar eclipse is a 1,000,000! There's no comparison, as per Travel+Leisure. For the first time since 2012, the next ring of fire (an annular solar eclipse) will be visible on June 10, 2021. Meanwhile, the next total solar eclipse is on December 14, 2020, in Chile and Argentina. Restrictions due to the pandemic may dampen your plans of catching the occurrence live, but you could always watch it on Slooh.com.


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