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‘Ring of Fire’ Solar Eclipse: When, Where and How to Watch it

Aug 31, 2016 07:46 AM EDT
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The final solar eclipse for 2016 will occur this Thursday, and it promises to be a stunning sight.

The eclipse on Sept. 1 will be an annular eclipse, otherwise known as "ring of fire" eclipse, and it will be visible in the African continent. It is different from a total eclipse, where the moon blocks out all of the sun's light, showing only the faint ring of the sun's corona.

With an annular eclipse, the moon does not completely cover the sun. This is because of the moon's elliptical orbit, which makes it appear too distant or smaller in size to cover the sun. When the small-looking moon positions at the center of the sun, it leaves a flaming circle of light in the sky, like a ring of fire.

Where can it be seen?

The antumbra, which is the path of the shadow annulus as seen from the Earth, will first touch down in the Southern Atlantic at 7:20 Universal Time (UT) on September 1 before moving across Africa and disappearing over the Indian Ocean at 10:55 UT, Universe Today reports.

The path will cross Gabon, Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar. Partial phases will also be visible in southern Morocco, Egypt and the southwestern parts of the Arabian peninsula.

According to Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College in Massachusetts, the best place to view the eclipse is in the south of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Observers could catch a glimpse of the moon as it crosses paths with the sun at around 9:08 local time.

An online observatory called Sooh will also broadcast the event live for everyone to see.

How to watch the annular eclipse

Looking directly into the sun even during an eclipse could result to permanent eye damage or even blindness, so observers will need to wear a protective eyewear or eclipse glasses.

Those who plan to document the event could use a simple wide-angle snap, even with a smartphone camera.

The next annular eclipse will be on Feb. 26, 2017 and will be seen across South America. A total solar eclipse otherwise known as the "Great American Eclipse" will also occur on Aug. 21, 2017 and will be seen across the continental U.S. for the first time in about 40 years.

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