Millions of people in South America and the western and southern tips of Africa witnessed the first solar eclipse of 2017 that treated viewers to a so-called “ring of fire” on Sunday.
The annular solar eclipse occurs when the Earth, Moon and Sun all come into a line, with the only natural satellite of our planet appearing to block out the Sun. A thin ring around the edge of the Moon occurs as the Sun pokes out, giving it the ring of fire effect.
Solar astrophysicist Alex Young of NASA explained that there is a clear difference between an annular solar eclipse and total solar eclipse.
Explaining that difference, Young said, “An annular eclipse is the product of almost the same celestial geometry as a total solar eclipse … But an annular eclipse is different in one important way — the moon is too far from Earth to obscure the sun completely, leaving the sun’s edges exposed and producing the ‘ring of fire’ effect.”
Astronomers from NASA and the Slooh community observatory captured eye-catching images of the annular eclipse as it passed through the skies over Chile, Argentina, and the Atlantic to parts of Africa.
Yesterday’s eclipse was the first of two solar eclipses of 2017. The next one will take place on 21st of August. It will be the first total solar eclipse to traverse the continental America in as many as forty years.