On October 14, skywatchers in the Western United States, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America will have the opportunity to witness a breathtaking celestial event—a rare annular “ring of fire” solar eclipse. This occurrence takes place when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, casting its shadow across the Earth’s surface.
During an annular solar eclipse, the moon appears slightly smaller than the sun, allowing a bright halo to form around it instead of completely blocking the sun’s disk. The resulting effect is a mesmerizing “ring of fire” in the sky.
Annular eclipses occur when the moon is positioned farther away from the Earth in its orbit, resulting in its apparent size being slightly smaller than the sun. These annular eclipses are relatively rare, with only twelve more expected to occur globally over the course of this decade.
Today’s annular solar eclipse will follow a path that includes Mexico, Central and South America, and specific regions within these areas.
The eclipse’s journey begins in Guatemala, passing through Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama as it traverses Central America. Moving into South America, the eclipse will reach Colombia before crossing Northern Brazil. Finally, the event will conclude at sunset in the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s valuable to note that the annular solar eclipse holds cultural significance for Indigenous communities, particularly those living in the Four Corners region, including the Navajo Nation. To respect their traditions, citizens of the Navajo Nation, known as the Diné people, avoid going outside, viewing the eclipse, or allowing the eclipse’s light to shine upon them. Consequently, certain tribal lands, including all Navajo Tribal Parks and the iconic Monument Valley, will be closed to visitors on Saturday.
As sky gazers prepare for this extraordinary event, it is crucial to remember not to look directly at the eclipse without proper eye protection!