If you’re something of a stargazer, you’ve had little respite from the jam-packed celestial calendar lately: Between last month’s Super Flower Blood Moon, and both of April’s meteor showers, the stargazing industrial complex has been operating at full tilt, giving people plenty of reason to stay up into the small hours.
This month is no different, either, as an annular eclipse is primed to occur on June 10, shrouding the fringes of the moon in what looks like a smouldering ring of fire. Cue the Johnny Cash jokes and prepare yourselves for a summery evening under the stars.
What is the ‘Ring of Fire’ eclipse?
If you’re not aware by now, every celestial event has a clickable name, though this one might be the most literal representation of what actually occurs in space. On June 10, a solar eclipse will occur when the moon moves between the Earth and the sun. But because the moon’s orbit will be too close to the Earth (and far from the sun) to completely obscure the great burning star, the darkened moon will appear to have burning edges created by the sun behind it.
EarthSky provides further elaboration on how it unfolds:
A bright annulus – or ring – will surround the new moon silhouette at mid-eclipse. It’s the outer rim of the sun, not quite hidden from view. People have taken to calling these “ring of fire” eclipses. Essentially, they are partial eclipses, albeit very dramatic ones.
This eclipse isn’t a very long event; in fact, it’s only expected to last about an hour and forty minutes, while the moon will only be situated directly in front of the sun for three minutes and 51 seconds maximum.
The Northeast is the place to be
If the Ring of Fire is a fleeting occurrence, witnessing the event’s full splendour will be arguably even harder for most people dependent on their location — especially for those in the southern hemisphere. Unfortunately, the full burning fringes of the moon (i.e., the actual “ring of fire” part), won’t be visible in the United States; the only part of North America where it will be viewable is in Northern Ontario, and Quebec Canada. Technically, three countries — Greenland, Canada, and Russia — are the most ideally situated to fall directly under the eclipse’s shadow.
However, the partial eclipse will still present itself for onlookers in other northerly locales, particularly in the “United States and Canada, Europe, and Russia,” the Great American Eclipse explains. “In North America, the most ideally situated metropolitan areas to view the eclipse at sunrise are Toronto, Philadelphia, and New York,” per the website.
If you happen to be in the northeastern U.S., the partial eclipse will begin at the highly unreasonable hour of 4:12 am and stretch into the more logical hours of morning, ending at 9:11 am. Americans on the west coast can find solace in sleep, as they won’t miss anything by staying in bed.
The cold shouldn’t be too much of a deterrent, as it is with other eclipses and full moons earlier in the year, but remember to wear protective glasses when looking at the eclipse. You can find at any number of online retailers and keep them around for years to come — like when the next Ring of Fire greets us again in 2023.
Note: Australians won’t be able to view the solar eclipse but can watch live streams of the event starting at 6:12 pm AEST on June 10.