Get excited. We’re just a month away from this year’s annular solar eclipse.
On Saturday, October 14, 2023, the “Ring of Fire” annular solar eclipse will sweep across a 125-mile (200 km) wide path extending from the northwestern United States through Central America to Brazil. Even areas in the Americas outside the path of the total eclipse will be able to see a partial solar eclipse as well, if weather conditions are right.
An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon appears relatively small in the sky and therefore does not completely cover the Sun during a solar eclipse, leaving a thin outer ring of the Sun visible often called the “ring of fire.”
Eclipse fans can now start preparing for the event by watching NASA’s epic new trailer that teases the first “Ring of Fire” to be seen in the US since 2012.
Related: Annular solar eclipse 2023: Everything you need to know about the “ring of fire” eclipse in North America
The Moon’s orbit around our planet is a flat circle, or ellipse, which means that sometimes it is closer to Earth, or at perigee, and other times it is farther away, or at apogee. An eclipse occurs when the moon is in the new moon phase, meaning its face is completely dark and it rises and sets with the sun. During a total solar eclipse, the Moon is close to Earth, and the completely dark lunar disk is large enough to cover the entire Sun, darkening the sky above Earth.
But the annular eclipse occurs when the moon is at its zenith. Because of its distance, it appears slightly smaller in the sky. This means that the lunar disk does not completely block the sun, but rather lets the edges of our star “stick out” from behind the moon, thus creating the effect of a golden ring of fire in the sky. This also does not cause a complete darkening of the sky.
Like all eclipses, October’s annular eclipse can only be seen from specific areas of the planet because the moon is so close to Earth that where it appears in the sky depends on where the observer is located around the world.
During the annular eclipse on Oct. 14, the Moon will cover 91% of the Sun, and the ring of fire this leads to will be visible from Oregon across northern California, northeastern Nevada, central Utah, northeastern Arizona, southwest Colorado, and midtown. New Mexico and southern Texas, all of which lie in the “loop path,” which is 118 to 137 miles (190 to 220 km) wide.
Outside the United States, the annular eclipse will also be visible in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Brazil. The ring of fire will last its longest, around 5 minutes and 17 seconds, when seen off the coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Skywatchers who want to travel to be in the path of the annular eclipse in October instead of watching it online can consult the interactive map created by French eclipse expert Xavier Jubier, available here.
NASA has its own map of the eclipse available herewhich also includes a map of the total solar eclipse that will cross North America, including the United States, Canada and Mexico, on April 24, 2024.
However, being out of the path of the Ring of Fire – or more formally annular eclipse – or being outside North America entirely does not necessarily mean missing out. Sky watchers anywhere in the world can view the annular eclipse online and for free as it is broadcast live by NASA on its website. YouTube channel.
The live broadcast begins on October 14 at 11:30 AM EST (1530 GMT) and ends at 1:15 PM EST (1715 GMT). It will also be broadcast on the NASA website and the space agency’s app.