A so-called “ring of fire” eclipse, which is scientifically called annular eclipse, will cross over parts of South America and the western and southern tips of Africa. This solar phenomenon takes place when the Moon comes in between the Sun and our planet but don’t completely block the Sun as it does during a total solar eclipse.
NASA’s solar astrophysicist Alex Young explained that viewers in the aforementioned regions would be able to see a thin little ring around the edge of the Moon where our host star would be poking out, which would give it the ring of fire effect.
There are some obvious difference between an annular eclipse and total solar eclipse. While the annular eclipse creates the ‘ring of fire’ effect, it still remains the brightest object in the sky. On the other hand, a solar eclipse changes the whole environment.
Another big difference is that one can’t see the sun’s corona (the star’s outer atmosphere that comes into view as white wisps of light) during an annular eclipse.
Speaking on the topic, Mr. Young said, “We won’t be able to see the corona because it’s just going to be swamped by the photosphere, the visible surface of the sun. The photosphere is a million times brighter than the corona.”
Meanwhile, UC Berkeley and Google have announced a new project, called the Eclipse Megamovie Project, which is looking for citizen scientists to document and memorialize one of the most anticipated solar eclipses. Documentation of the Aug. 21st solar eclipse will help scientists learn more about the Sun in the process.