Don’t Miss the Breathtaking “Ring of Fire” Solar Eclipse

Hinode Observes Annular Solar Eclipse

NASA’s Hinode satellite captured this breathtaking image of an annular solar eclipse on January 4, 2011. Credit:

On Thursday, June 10, 2021, people across the northern hemisphere will have the chance to experience an annular or partial eclipse of the Sun.

A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth, fully or partially blocking the Sun’s light in some areas. During an annular eclipse, the Moon is far enough away from Earth that the Moon appears smaller than the Sun in the sky. Since the Moon does not block the entire view of the Sun, it will look like a dark disk on top of a larger, bright disk. This creates what looks like a ring of fire around the Moon. People in parts of Canada, Greenland, and northern Russia will experience the annular eclipse.

Annular Solar Eclipse

An annular solar eclipse on May 20, 2012. Credit: Dale Cruikshank

In some places, viewers won’t get to see this ring around the Moon. They’ll instead experience a partial solar eclipse. This happens when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are not exactly lined up. The Sun will appear to have a dark shadow on only part of its surface. Viewers in parts of the eastern United States and northern Alaska will see a partial solar eclipse on June 10, along with much of Canada and parts of the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa.

Transit Eclipse

In the United States, the partial eclipse will be visible along parts of the Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, and in Northern Alaska. In many of these locations, the eclipse will occur before, during, and shortly after sunrise. This means that viewers will need to get a clear view of the horizon during sunrise in order to see the eclipse.

A visualization of the Moon’s shadow during the June 10, 2021 annular solar eclipse showing the antumbra (black oval), penumbra (concentric shaded ovals), and path of annularity (red). Images of the Sun show its appearance in a number of locations, each oriented to the local horizon. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Ernie Wright

To learn which times the eclipse may be visible in certain areas, you can click anywhere on the map here. (Note that the maximum obscuration and maximum eclipse timing noted on this map may occur before sunrise in many locations.)

June 2021 Solar Eclipse Map

This map of the eclipse path shows where the June 10, 2021, annular and partial solar eclipse will occur. Click to enlarge.
Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Ernie Wright

Download this fact sheet to learn more about eclipses, how to view them safely, and fun eclipse activities:
Solar Eclipse Fact Sheet

How to Safely Watch an Annular or Partial Eclipse

It is never safe to look directly at the Sun’s rays, even if the Sun is partly or mostly obscured. When watching a partial solar eclipse or annular solar eclipse, you must wear solar viewing or eclipse glasses throughout the entire eclipse if you want to face the Sun. Solar viewing or eclipses glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing the Sun.

Hinode Observes Annular Solar Eclipse

This timelapse shows an annular eclipse as seen by JAXA’s Hinode satellite on January 4, 2011. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon, slightly more distant from Earth than on average, moves directly between Earth and the sun, thus appearing slightly smaller to observers’ eyes; the effect is a bright ring, or annulus of sunlight, around the silhouette of the moon. Credit: NASA

If you don’t have solar viewing or eclipse glasses, you can use an alternate indirect method, such as a pinhole projector. Pinhole projectors shouldn’t be used to look directly at the Sun, but instead to project sunlight onto a surface. Read a how-to guide for creating a pinhole viewer.

Stay safe and still enjoy the Sun’s stellar shows by creating your very own pinhole viewer with a few simple supplies. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

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