Just weeks after last month’s “blood flower super moon”, residents of the northern hemisphere will have the chance this week to witness yet another sky-watching spectacle: the first solar eclipse of 2021.
A so-called annular solar eclipse will take place Thursday morning when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking sunlight and casting a shadow on the planet.
The event is sometimes known as a “ring of fire” eclipse, because the moon appears smaller than the sun in the sky and therefore does not completely block sunlight, appearing instead as a disk. dark with a dramatic orange-red ring of surrounding sunlight.
Weather permitting, sky watchers in parts of Canada, Greenland and northern Russia will be able to see the annular eclipse. It will begin at 4:12 am ET; the “ring of fire” will occur at 4:41 am ET and will last just under four minutes.
People elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, including the United States and much of Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, will have the chance to experience a partial solar eclipse. During a partial eclipse, the moon will appear to take a dark bite out of the sun, covering only part of its surface rather than creating the ring effect.
In the United States, a partial solar eclipse will be visible in parts of the southeast, northeast and Midwest and in northern Alaska, according to NASA. Because the celestial spectacle takes place before, during, and shortly after sunrise, people should try to get a clear view of the horizon to see the partial eclipse, NASA officials said in a statement.
And as with any solar eclipse, it’s important to never look directly at the sun, even when it’s partially or mostly covered by the moon. Special eclipse glasses or a pinhole projector are needed to safely view a solar eclipse and prevent eye damage.
This week’s event, the first of two solar eclipses in 2021, is the first visible solar eclipse in the United States since 2017. A total solar eclipse will occur on December 4, but it will only be visible above Antarctica.