Annular solar eclipses are special as they offer stargazers a stunning ‘ring of fire’ view of the our Sun and this year’s first annular solar eclipse was no different.
Stargazers in Southern Hemisphere were awestruck by the stunning view and while members of the general public admired the view, astronomers and scientist took the opportunity to study the sun even further to find out whatever bits and bobs about our host star they can.
People located in South America and Southern Africa were treated with the best view. The annular solar eclipse crossed South America shortly after 1200 GMT on course for Africa. As was predicted, the ‘ring of fire’ was visible in a 100-km (62-mile) band across the South American countries of Chile, Argentina and Southern African countries of Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Stargazers gathered at several places along this narrow band in Argentina, Chile and other countries and witnessed the eclipse wherein the Sun was reduced to just a bright ring in the dark sky. The eclipse moved on from South America to Africa – visible from Angola south of the town of Benguela, then Zambia and DR Congo just before the sun set.
As NASA describes it, an annular eclipse is the product of almost the same celestial geometry as a total solar eclipse – that is, from the perspective of some place on Earth, the moon crosses in front of the sun’s center. But an annular eclipse is different in one important way – the moon is too far from Earth to obscure the sun completely, leaving the sun’s edges exposed and producing the “ring of fire” effect for which annular eclipses are known. Because the moon’s orbit is slightly oblong, its distance from Earth – and therefore its apparent size compared to the sun’s – is constantly changing.