A ‘Ring of Fire’ Eclipse Starts Thursday

During the 2012 annular solar eclipse a person unknowingly walked in front of a photographer taking pictures of the ‘Ring of Fire’ in a park near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Credit Colleen Pinski

A ring of sunshine will blaze above parts of Africa on Thursday as the moon glides between the sun and Earth. The solar spectacle is called an annular eclipse, and sometimes referred to as a “ring of fire” eclipse.

Unlike its better-known relative the total solar eclipse, an annular eclipse occurs when the moon does not completely blot out the sun. For viewers on the ground, instead of witnessing a white halo they will see red slivers of sunlight shining around the moon’s dark silhouette.

“If they look up with protective eyewear they are going to see this strange ring in the sky, more spectacularly they will see these circular shadows,” said C. Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist from NASA. “It’s a cool event, the shadows are kind of eerie.”

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