Ring of fire eclipse: How to watch the rare celestial event on October 14

A ring of fire eclipse, also known as an annular solar eclipse, is a rare phenomenon that occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, but does not completely cover the sun’s disk. This creates a thin ring of sunlight around the dark silhouette of the moon, resembling a fiery ring in the sky.

Ring of fire eclipse

An annular eclipse is different from a total solar eclipse, which happens when the moon is closer to the earth and blocks out the entire sun, creating a dark shadow on the earth’s surface. During a total eclipse, the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona, becomes visible as a faint halo of light.

An annular eclipse only happens when the moon is at its farthest point from the earth, making it appear smaller than the sun. This means that the moon cannot block out all of the sun’s light, leaving a bright ring visible. The ring of fire effect is most pronounced at the center of the eclipse’s path, where the moon covers about 97% of the sun’s diameter.

When and where can you see the ring of fire eclipse?

The ring of fire eclipse will take place on October 14, 2023, and will be visible in some parts of North America, Central America, and South America. The eclipse will begin in Oregon at 9:13 a.m. local time (17:13 BST) and end in Texas at 12:03 p.m. local time (18:03 BST). The peak of the eclipse, when the ring of fire is most visible, will occur at different times depending on your location.

According to NASA, some of the best places to see the ring of fire are:

  • Redding, California: 10:17 a.m. local time (18:17 BST)
  • Reno, Nevada: 10:20 a.m. local time (18:20 BST)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah: 10:28 a.m. local time (18:28 BST)
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: 10:38 a.m. local time (18:38 BST)
  • Lubbock, Texas: 11:02 a.m. local time (18:02 BST)

People in other parts of North America and South America will see a partial eclipse, where the moon covers only a portion of the sun. The partial eclipse will be visible in most of Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.

You can check the exact timing and visibility of the eclipse for your location using this interactive map.

How to watch the ring of fire eclipse safely?

Watching a solar eclipse is an amazing experience, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t take proper precautions. Looking directly at the sun, even during an eclipse, can cause severe eye damage or blindness. You should never look at the sun without proper eye protection, such as approved eclipse glasses or a pinhole projector.

Eclipse glasses are special filters that block out most of the sun’s light and allow you to safely view the eclipse. They are different from regular sunglasses or polarized lenses, which are not enough to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. You should only use eclipse glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for solar viewing and have no scratches or damages.

A pinhole projector is a simple device that projects an image of the sun onto a screen using a small hole. You can make one using two pieces of cardboard or paper plates. Cut a small hole in one piece and hold it in front of the sun. Place another piece behind it and adjust the distance until you see a clear image of the sun on it. You can also use other objects with small holes, such as a colander or a leaf.

You should never look at the sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics. These devices can magnify the sun’s light and cause severe eye injury.

Why is this ring of fire eclipse special?

The ring of fire eclipse on October 14 is special for several reasons. First, it is the first annular eclipse to be visible in North America since 2017 and the last one until 2046. Second, it coincides with NASA’s launch of three sounding rockets into the shadow of the eclipse from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. These rockets will carry scientific instruments to study how the sun’s radiation affects Earth’s upper atmosphere during an eclipse.

The sounding rockets are part of NASA’s Heliophysics Technology and Instrument Development for Science (H-TIDeS) program, which aims to develop new technologies and methods for studying space weather and solar activity. The rockets will measure changes in temperature, density, electric fields, and ionization in the ionosphere – a layer of charged particles that surrounds the earth and affects radio communications and GPS signals.

The rockets will also test a new type of solar filter that can block out most of the sun’s light except for a narrow band of ultraviolet wavelengths. This filter will allow scientists to observe the sun’s chromosphere – a layer of hot gas that lies between the photosphere and the corona. The chromosphere is where most of the sun’s flares and eruptions originate, but it is difficult to study because it is usually outshone by the brighter photosphere.

The rockets will launch about 15 minutes before the peak of the eclipse and fly for about 10 minutes, reaching altitudes of up to 200 miles. They will transmit data back to the ground and eject small payloads that will parachute back to earth for recovery.

How to enjoy the ring of fire eclipse?

The ring of fire eclipse is a rare and spectacular sight that you don’t want to miss. Here are some tips on how to make the most of it:

  • Plan ahead and find a suitable viewing location away from city lights and tall buildings, ensuring a clear view of the sky where the eclipse will occur.
  • Check the weather forecast and be prepared for any changes in temperature or cloud cover that might affect your visibility.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and bring water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun and stay hydrated.
  • Bring your eclipse glasses, pinhole projector, camera, or other viewing equipment and test them before the eclipse starts.
  • Share your experience with others by taking photos, videos, or live streaming the eclipse on social media. You can also join online events hosted by NASA, National Geographic, or other organizations that will provide expert commentary and information about the eclipse.

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