Ring of fire rises in the sky this week with annular solar eclipse

A ring of fire will appear in the sky this week with a Sept. 1 annular solar eclipse.

The total solar eclipse of 2016 reaches totality in this still image from a NASA webcast on March 8, 2016 from Woleai Island in Micronesia, where it was March 9 local time during the eclipse. - See more at: http://www.space.com/32198-total-solar-eclipse-2016-pictures.html#sthash.iCglzL3j.dpuf

Still image from a NASA webcast on March 8, 2016 from Woleai Island in Micronesia. 

But North America will have to turn to live webcasts to see the event, which will only be visible in swath of Central Africa.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon covers only the sun’s center, leaving its outer edges to burn like a ring of fire, according to Slooh.com.  The event begins at 2:13 a.m. EST.

The website TimeandDate.com says annular solar eclipses occur only when the four follow factors are in play:

  • The Moon is a new Moon.
  • The Moon is at or near a lunar node.
  • The Earth, Moon and Sun are perfectly aligned in a straight line.
  • The Moon is at its apogee.
Capture

The path of Sept. 1’s annular solar eclipse.

There are four eclipses in 2016. The first was March 9 and was visible in Indonesia and parts of the Pacific Ocean. March 23rd marked a penumbral lunar eclipse.

Then there’s this week’s annular solar eclipse and another penumbral lunar eclipse Sept. 16.

“The year’s fourth and final eclipse is another barely-there circumstance during which the Moon again slides through Earth’s vague outer shadow,” writes Kelly Beatty of Sky and Telescope magazine. “Dusky shading on the lunar disk’s northern half should be easy to spot when the eclipse reaches its maximum at 18:54 UT.”

The real show will be Aug. 21, 2017 when the first total solar eclipse visible in North America in nearly 40 years will occur.

Map of path taken by Aug. 21, 2017 solar eclipse. See NASA's interactive solar eclipse map here.

Map of path taken by Aug. 21, 2017 solar eclipse. See NASA’s interactive solar eclipse map here.

 

 

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