Ring of fire

What is an annular solar eclipse, and how to watch

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You probably know better than to look at the Sun, but it’s worth finding a safe way to view it before Thursday, June 10.

That’s when you’ll be able to see a rare annular eclipse in parts of North America.

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June 10 marks the first solar eclipse of any kind viewable in North America since 2017. The fact that it’s also an annular eclipse makes it worth the wait.

What is an annular eclipse?

Sometimes called a “ring of fire” eclipse, an annular eclipse happens when the Moon doesn’t completely block the Sun from view, leaving a ring of blazing light visible on its outer edge.

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Annular eclipses occur when the Moon is at the farthest point in its orbit from Earth, so it appears smaller in the sky. It’s like the opposite of what happened last month, when a lunar eclipse came at the Moon’s closest point to Earth.

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Most people won’t be able to see the full ring effect. The annular eclipse’s path runs from southern Ontario up through Greenland, the Arctic, and northeastern Russia.

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The U.S. East Coast and most of Europe will instead see a partial solar eclipse.

As far south as South Carolina and as far north as Quebec, skywatchers will see a chip taken out of the Sun.

On the East Coast, you’ll be treated to the extremely metal sight of a pair of fiery horns rising in the sky.

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In North America, the solar eclipse will happen right around sunrise. Here’s when you can view it across the continent in local time:

- Chicago — 5:18 a.m.

- New York City — 5:24 a.m.

- Montreal — 5:39 a.m.

- Toronto — 5:40 a.m.

- Washington, DC — 5:45 a.m.

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If you plan on watching the eclipse, make sure you do it safely! Looking directly at even a sliver of the Sun can permanently damage your eyes.

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One option is to get yourself a pair of solar shades. While questionable as a fashion accessory, they use a thin layer of metal to filter the sunlight and protect your eyes. Ordinary sunglasses won’t cut it. Make sure to get shades with an ISO 12312-2 safety standard.

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The safest way to view a solar eclipse is to use a pinhole projector. If you’re in the mood for some arts and crafts, you can make one yourself in a few minutes with household items.

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Eclipse chasers sometimes travel hours to catch sight of one. Unfortunately, traveling from the U.S. to Canada for this one won’t be possible, thanks to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

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If you miss your chance to see the annular eclipse, the next one isn’t until 2023, but that ring of fire will be visible across more of the U.S.

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That will be followed in 2024 by the first total solar eclipse in North America since 2017.

Read more stories on astronomy here.

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