The date may still seem far off, but if you enjoy watching celestial events, you’ll want to circle Saturday, October 14, 2023, on your calendar. And here’s the best part: You won’t even need to stay up late, wake up early, or get up in the middle of the night.
On October 14, 2023, an annular — Latin for “ring-shaped” — solar eclipse will create what’s called a “ring of fire” that will be visible across a roughly 125-mile-wide path that stretches from Oregon to Texas, and then into Mexico, Central America, and South America, according to NASA.
Given that the annular solar eclipse’s path will cross North, Central, and South America, it will be visible to millions of people.
How An Annular Solar Eclipse Is Different
During a total solar eclipse, the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth — completely blocking our view of the sun. On the other hand, during a partial solar eclipse, the moon also passes between the sun and Earth, but since the sun, moon, and Earth aren’t quite lined up, the sun is still visible in a crescent shape.
What’s different about an annular solar eclipse is that the moon passes between the sun and Earth when the moon is at the farthest point in its orbit away from Earth. Because the moon is so far away from Earth, it appears smaller than at other points in its orbit and doesn’t quite obscure the sun. Instead, a thin band — or ring — of the sun will still be visible from Earth.
Indeed, during the annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023, the moon will only cover about 90 percent of the sun, according to the American Astronomical Society. The other 10 percent of the sun will be visible as a “ring of fire.”
Where You Can See The Ring Of Fire
The annular solar eclipse will be visible on October 14, 2023, for people in parts of North, Central, and South America.
In the U.S., the annular solar eclipse will begin to be seen in Oregon at 9:13 a.m. Pacific time, before visibility ends in Texas at 12:03 p.m. Central time, NASA explains.
The path of the annular solar eclipse will then pass over Mexico and Central America, including Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. After that, it will pass over Northern Brazil before ending at sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
To help with your planning, NASA even offers a table showing the exact time the eclipse begins in various cities across the United States.
Unfortunately, however, if you’re outside the annular solar eclipse’s path, you’ll see a partial solar eclipse instead. NASA’s viewing table also shows how much of the sun will be obscured in your local area.
Know Before You Watch
Keep in mind that the sun is never completely blocked by the moon during an annular solar eclipse. Consequently, as is the case with any type of solar eclipse, remember not to look directly at the sun. Furthermore, never look at a solar eclipse with a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope unless it has a special solar filter because it can instantly damage your eyes.
Instead, you should use so-called “eclipse glasses” — which are thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses — to watch the annular solar eclipse. You can also use a handheld solar viewer that is similarly dark.
If you don’t have eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer, you can still safely watch the eclipse indirectly. One way to do that is to use a pinhole projector, such as an index card with a hole punched in it, that projects an image of the sun onto a nearby surface.
You can learn more about safely viewing the eclipse in NASA’s Projection: Pinhole & Optical tips.
Finally, if you’re ready to travel to ensure you get the optimal view of the annular solar eclipse, you’ll need to make plans to be in parts of Utah, New Mexico, and Texas, according to the American Astronomical Society. Those states are directly in the path of the annular eclipse, but they also offer favorable weather for viewing all types of solar eclipses.
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