The Eclipse Ring of Fire

In eclipse-speak, a Ring of Fire is the view of an annular eclipse of the Sun by the Moon.

(An annular eclipse occurs instead of a total eclipse when the Moon is on the far part of its elliptical orbit around the Earth. It results in the apparent size of the Moon being visibly smaller than the apparent size of the Sun.)

The name is kinda self-explanatory, but its effect is incredibly beautiful: at the peak of the eclipse, the dark Moon will appear to be surrounded by the bright Sun, creating a brilliant, burning “ring”.

This picture of a magnificent “ring of fire” was photographed in January 1992 by Dennis L Mammana and appeared on Astronomy Picture of the Day in January 2009.

Photo: Dennis L Mammana

Wednesday’s eclipse will be a total eclipse. The next annular eclipse will take place in January 2012.

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