Where to watch the ring of fire solar eclipse at sunrise

  • >>Dennis Overbye, The New York Times
    Published: 2021-06-10 02:01:45 BdST

An annular solar eclipse viewed from Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, in 2019.Credit...Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

If you are far enough north, the sun will rise like the horns of a bull Thursday morning. It’s an annular eclipse, also known as a ring of fire eclipse. Think of it as a beacon for the solstice June 20, which is the astronomical start of summer.

The full annular eclipse can be seen only by people living in a few remote places. But if you are willing to wake up at sunrise in many other places and use proper safety procedures, you will get a pretty good view of a partial solar eclipse.

Where and when will the eclipse be visible?

On Thursday, the ring of fire will be visible across a narrow band in the far northern latitudes, starting near Lake Superior in Ontario, Canada, at sunrise, or 5:55 a.m. Eastern time. It will then cross Greenland, the Arctic Ocean and the North Pole, ending in Siberia at sunset, or 7:29 am Eastern time.

Outside of that strip, observers will see a crescent sun, or a partial solar eclipse. The closer they are to the centerline, the more of the sun will be gone. In the New York City metropolitan area, the sun will be about two-thirds obscured when it rises at 5:25 am Eastern time, said Mike Kentrianakis, who was the Eclipse Project Manager for the American Astronomical Society during the big eclipse in 2017.

“It will then reach a maximum obscuration of nearly 73 percent at 5:32 am from New York City,” he wrote in an email.

He added: “Expect an exceptionally darkened dawn. It’s always darkest before dawn. On this morning not exactly!”

What is an annular eclipse?

During total solar eclipses, the moon totally blots out the sun, exposing our star’s feathery shy corona. These happen every couple of years.

But during annular eclipses, the moon is far enough from Earth that it does not cover the whole photosphere, as the sun’s bright glowing surface is called. As a result, a thin circular strip of glowing sun remains once the moon is centered in front of the sun. This is the “ring of fire.”

At its maximum, this June’s eclipse will leave 11 percent of the photosphere still exposed.

Is it safe to look at a partial solar eclipse, or an annular one?

No. Unless you are wearing special protective glasses, it is never a good idea to look directly at the sun, even if it is partly or annularly eclipsed.

Exposure to intense light from the sun during an eclipse can cause injuries to your retinas that may not heal. Such damage can lead to permanent vision loss, depending on how much exposure you experience.

To keep safe, wear eclipse glasses while viewing the eclipse. Not sunglasses — eclipse glasses. If you do not have any leftover from 2017’s “Great American Eclipse,” you can find a list of reputable vendors at eclipse.

But if you cannot get any glasses or other filtering viewers in time for Thursday’s eclipse, there are other things you can do, like make a pinhole projector at home with cardboard or a paper plate.

Can I watch this eclipse online?

There are a number of options to watch a stream of the eclipse.

NASA will start its video coverage on YouTube at 5 am Eastern time, although the agency says that the view will be dark until 5:47 am.

Other websites, including Timeanddate.com and Virtual Telescope will also provide streams from a variety of locations, also starting at 5 am.

How rare is this kind of eclipse?

Annular eclipses are not all that unusual. A “ring of fire” put on a show in the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia in December 2019.

One interesting feature about this eclipse is that it will move north, crossing over the North Pole before heading south. That the eclipse is occurring so far north is explained by its occurrence near the summer solstice, when the northern half of the planet is close to its most extreme tilt toward the sun.

The last time a crescent sunrise eclipse occurred in New York was 1875, Kentrianakis noted. “And they complained like us about getting up so early,” he said.

Why do astronomers study eclipses?

Total solar eclipses are the best chances that astrophysicists on Earth have to study the stormy dynamics at the sun’s surface that launch pieces of it into space and somehow pump energy into the thin million-degree corona.

In 1919, astronomers were able to detect that light rays from distant stars had been bent by the gravitational field of the sun, verifying a prediction of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Even if you cannot see the corona, annular eclipses are still valuable for professional astronomers trying to improve their game for the next total eclipse, especially if they are observing from an airplane, as some will do for this eclipse. On those journeys, flight plans must be precisely calculated.

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