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How to Watch Thursday’s Rare “Ring of Fire” Solar Eclipse

Last month’s “flower blood super moon” lunar eclipse was not the only exciting celestial event of the season. This week brings an even bigger spectacle – a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse.

On Thursday, June 10, sky watchers around the world will be able to observe the annular solar eclipse.

What is an annular solar eclipse?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, completely blocking sunlight. During an annular solar eclipse, the moon does not completely cover the sun as it passes, leaving a bright ring of sunlight visible.

An annular eclipse can only occur under specific conditions, according to NASA. The moon must be in its first lunar phase, and it must also be further from Earth in its elliptical orbit, appearing smaller in the sky than it usually would be.

Because the moon looks smaller under these circumstances, it cannot completely block the sun, forming what is called a “ring of fire” or “ring of light”.

“As the pair rises higher in the sky, the silhouette of the Moon will gradually shift from the sun down to the left, allowing more sun to show up until the end of the eclipse,” said NASA said.

How to Watch Thursday’s Rare “Ring of Fire” Solar Eclipse
The moon moves past the sun in a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse seen from Tanjung Piai, Malaysia on December 26, 2019.

SADIQ ASYRAF / AFP / Getty Images

How to observe the annular solar eclipse

Thursday morning June 10 marks the new moon, which eclipse the sun in the United States between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. ET, depending on your location. To see it, look east.

The narrow path of the eclipse will be fully visible in parts of Canada, Greenland, the Arctic Ocean and Siberia. It will be partially visible for much of the rest of northeastern North America, Greenland, Northern Europe and Northern Asia.

From the Washington, DC area, the moon will block about 80% of the left side of the sun as they rise together in the east-northeast at 5:42 a.m. The sun will appear as a crescent during this time, according to NASA.

“From any point along this annular solar eclipse path, the middle or annular or ‘ring of fire’ stage of the eclipse lasts a maximum of 3 minutes 51 seconds,” according to EarthSky.

It is essential to wear special solar eclipse glasses to protect your eyes while observing the celestial phenomenon. Looking directly at the sun is dangerous and can damage your eyes.

This is just one of two solar eclipses for 2021. A total solar eclipse will be visible on December 4th.

And don’t worry if you miss it – you can just catch up on a livestream instead.


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