The video NASA made public earlier this week shows what the “ring of fire” sun will look like. The footage was taken during the annular solar eclipse in Western Australia in May 2013.
“In the early morning of May 10, 2013, from Western Australia, the moon was between the Earth and the rising sun,” NASA wrote in the caption to the video.
“At times, it would be hard for the uninformed to understand what was happening. In an annular eclipse, the moon is too far from the Earth to block the entire sun, and at most leaves a ring of fire where sunlight pours out around every edge of the moon.”
The video also shows the eclipse through the high refraction of the Earth’s atmosphere just above the horizon, making the unusual rising sun and moon appear flattened. Further on in the video, the sun can be seen rising further, before the sun and moon begin to separate.
An annular eclipse is a solar eclipse where the moon passes directly in front of the sun but does not cover it completely, creating the appearance of a glowing halo around the moon, though often for only a minute or so.
This special effect occurs either when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth along its elliptical orbit, making it appear smaller, or when Earth is closer to the sun along its orbit, making it appear larger than usual, Astronomy explained.
The June 21 eclipse will be particularly grand, as the moon will block out 99 percent of the sun, making it a near-total solar eclipse. This one will also darken the skies more than most annular eclipses, and the “ring of fire” that appears could possibly even allow a glimpse of the corona—the white-hot atmosphere surrounding the sun, which is normally invisible to the eye.
This weekend’s eclipse sadly won’t be visible from North America. The eclipse will begin at sunrise in the Republic of the Congo and travel northwest across central Africa, the Red Sea, the Middle East, the Gulf of Oman, Pakistan, and India.
It will then travel east and then southeast across China, Taiwan, the Philippine Sea, and south of Guam, ending at sunset over the North Pacific Ocean.
For those for who the event is not visible, website Time and Date will be live streaming it.
Some of the most avid eclipse watchers are planning to travel to places such as Tibet, Oman, or Ethiopia, where the spectacle is expected to be particularly good, Travel and Leisure reported.
For those hoping to catch sight of the annular eclipse, however, it’s important to use proper eye protection. Regular sunglasses will not suffice, and watching an eclipse without proper eyewear can cause eye damage or blindness.
The next time an annular solar eclipse will grace North American skies will be on June 10, 2021, just weeks following a “blood moon” total lunar eclipse. The ring of fire will be visible in northern Ontario and northern Quebec.
Michael Wing contributed to this report.