An annular solar eclipse isn’t quite the same spectacle as a total eclipse. The Moon doesn’t completely cover the Sun, so we don’t see the corona — the Sun’s hot but faint outer atmosphere. But it still offers a beautiful experience. The sky looks dusky, the air cools, and leafy trees produce shadows that look like rings. And viewed with the right safety gear, the eclipse itself is impressive, with a “ring of fire” encircling the Moon.
And that’s what a narrow band of the United States will see tomorrow. The path of “annularity” — when the Sun completely encircles the Moon — will sweep ashore on the coast of Oregon at about 9:13 local time. It’ll then slide southeastward, passing across six other states and several major cities before heading into the Gulf of Mexico, around noon.
Solar eclipses take place when the new Moon glides between Earth and the Sun. If the Moon is at its average distance from Earth or closer, it produces a total eclipse. For this eclipse, though, the Moon will be about 8,000 miles farther than average. So, at most, it’ll block 91 percent of the Sun’s disk.
Other than Hawaii, the rest of the U.S. will see a partial eclipse, with the Moon blocking a smaller fraction of the Sun. The closer to the path of annularity, the greater the extent of the eclipse.
Please look at the eclipse only with proper eye protection, or follow it online — as a ring of fire encircles the Moon.
Script by Damond Benningfield