If you’re far enough north, the sun will rise like the horns of a bull on the morning of June 10th. It is an annular solar eclipse, also known as a ring of fire eclipse. Think of it as a beacon for the solstice on June 20th, the astronomical start of summer.
The full annular solar eclipse can only be seen by people who live in some remote locations. But if you’re willing to wake up at sunrise in many other places and take the right safety precautions, you can get a pretty good view of a partial solar eclipse.
Where and when will the solar eclipse be visible?
On June 10, the ring of fire will be visible across a narrow band in the extreme northern latitudes, beginning near Lake Superior in Ontario, Canada at sunrise or 5:55 a.m. Eastern Time. It then crosses Greenland, the Arctic Ocean and the North Pole and ends in Siberia at sunset or 7:29 am Eastern Time.
Outside this streak, observers will see a crescent sun or a partial solar eclipse. The closer they are to the center line, the more sun is lost. In metropolitan New York, said Mike Kentrianakis, who was the American Astronomical Society’s Eclipse project manager during the major solar eclipse in 2017, said about two-thirds of the sun will be obscured by the time it rises at 5:25 a.m. Eastern Time.
“It will then reach a maximum blackout of nearly 73 percent at 5:32 am from New York City,” he wrote in an email.
He added, “Expect an exceptionally dark dawn. It is always darkest before sunrise. Not exactly this morning! “
What is an annular solar eclipse?
During total solar eclipses, the moon completely darkens the sun, exposing the feather-light, shy corona of our star. These happen every few years.
But in ring-shaped eclipses, the moon is so far from the earth that it does not cover the entire photosphere, as the brightly shining surface of the sun is called. As a result, once the moon is centered in front of the sun, a thin circular streak of the glowing sun is left behind. This is the “ring of fire”.
During the solar eclipse in June of this year, 11 percent of the photosphere was exposed.
Is it safe to view a partial solar eclipse or an annular one?
No. Without special protective goggles, it is never advisable to look directly into the sun, even if it is partially or in a ring eclipse.
Although you may not be able to see the infrared light from the sun, it can burn your retina that may not heal. Such damage can lead to permanent vision loss, depending on how exposed you are.
For safety, wear eclipse glasses while viewing the eclipse. No sunglasses – solar eclipse glasses. If you have nothing left of the “Great American Eclipse” 2017, you will find a list of well-known providers here.
But if you can’t get glasses or other filtering viewers in time for Thursday’s eclipse, there are other things you can do, like building a cardboard pinhole projector or paper plate at home. Here are some instructions.
Other websites, including Timeanddate.com and Virtual Telescope, will also offer streams from various locations starting at 5 a.m.
How rare is this type of solar eclipse?
Annular eclipses aren’t all that uncommon. A “Ring of Fire” put on a show in December 2019 in the Middle East as well as in South and Southeast Asia.
An interesting feature of this solar eclipse is that it moves north and crosses the North Pole before going south. That the solar eclipse occurs so far north is explained by its occurrence near the summer solstice, when the northern half of the planet approaches its most extreme inclination towards the sun.
The last time a crescent moon eclipse occurred in New York was in 1875, noted Mr. Kentrianakis. “And they complained, like us, that they got up so early,” he said.
Why do astronomers study eclipses?
Total solar eclipses are the best chance astrophysicists on Earth have to study the stormy dynamics on the sun’s surface that throw parts of it into space and somehow pump energy into the thin million-degree corona.
In 1919, astronomers discovered that rays of light from distant stars were bent by the sun’s gravitational field, confirming a prediction of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.