The annular solar eclipse will happen a few days from now. This type of solar eclipse does not happen all the time, therefore, it should not be missed, especially for those living in places where it is viewable.
The sky gives us a celestial show every now and then. But only those of us who remember to look up can witness its captivating spectacle. On Feb. 26, we will be presented with a special type of solar eclipse.
“Ring of Fire” in the Sky
An eclipse occurs when the Moon positions itself between the Earth and the Sun, which partially or fully blocks the Sun’s light. Four different kinds of eclipses happen in our skies at various points in the year: annular, hybrid, partial and total.
Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer from Williams College in Massachusetts explains the “Earth’s orbit is a little elliptical” and the Moon’s orbit even more so. Therefore, these different kinds of eclipses occur since both the Earth and the Moon’s orbits are not perfectly circular.
What makes the annular solar eclipse quite special is that the moon would not completely block the Sun’s solar disk. With that, the sun will be visible behind the moon which creates a stunning ring of light which is also referred to as a “ring of fire.”
It happens because the moon is “a little further away from us,” says Pasachoff. Since it is far away, it would be at a smaller angle which is too small to cover the “whole everyday solar disk.”
Its distance would also mean that the annular eclipse could only be viewed at places at the right angle. This year, the eclipse can only be witnessed from South America and some parts of Africa. For the rest of us, we would only have to rely on the coming photos to witness its wonder.
Rare Total Eclipse
Meanwhile, a total solar eclipse, called the “Great American Eclipse” is also set to take place on August 21. Compared to the annular, the Moon covers the entire solar disk of the Sun and casts the umbra, the darkest parts of its shadow, on Earth.
The spectacular celestial show will be witnessed all the way from Oregon to South Carolina. It marks the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States continental in about four decades.
Witnessing moments like this is an exceptional experience as we get to see a change that happens in the universe. This annular solar eclipse and total solar eclipse can only be witnessed once every 18 months from some places on Earth only.