What To Expect With This Weekend's "Ring Of Fire" Solar Eclipse
It's a big weekend in the cosmos: Summer officially kicks off in the northern hemisphere on Saturday with the summer solstice, and a "ring of fire" new moon and solar eclipse will follow shortly behind on Sunday morning. Despite its slightly sinister name, the lunation is something to celebrate—especially if you're lucky enough to be in its path. Here's why it happens, what it looks like, and how to see it.
What's a ring of fire eclipse?
Sunday's eclipse is the second in a series of three back-to-back (to-back) eclipses. It's a solar eclipse sandwiched between June 5 and July 5's lunar eclipses. Lunar eclipses happen when the Earth sits between the sun and a full moon, while solar eclipses happen when the new moon sits between the Earth and Sun. There are a few types of solar eclipses, and this weekend's is an annular eclipse—derived from the Latin annulus, or ring-shaped—meaning that the new moon won't directly block the sun and will instead leave a red-orange ring of sunlight visible in its path. That's where the "ring of fire" nickname comes in.
"In an annular eclipse, the Moon is too far from the Earth to block the entire Sun, and at most leaves a ring of fire where sunlight pours out around every edge of the Moon," explains a NASA blog.
Solar eclipses are only visible from certain points on Earth, which is what makes them so special (anyone still have their glasses from the total solar eclipse of August 2017?). This partial one will be passing through Africa and Asia primarily. Space.com charts out its path saying it will start "in central Africa at sunrise in the Republic of the Congo, just west of the Ubangi River. Then it moves northeast. cutting through parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Red Sea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the Gulf of Oman, Pakistan, and India. Then it turns east and finally southeast over China, Taiwan, and then out into the Philippine Sea, passing just south of Guam before coming to an end at sunset over the North Pacific Ocean."
So while those of us in the U.S. won't be able to see anything, night owls can tune in to a virtual eclipse watch party at 1 a.m. EDT on Sunday morning and we can all mark our calendars for Monday, April 8, 2024, when the next total solar eclipse will be visible in our neck of the woods.
How to tap into this eclipse's energy.
Any new moon—Sunday's eclipse included—is a good moment to wipe the slate clean and set new goals for yourself. Think of it as an opportunity to start fresh in one area of your life. Since this weekend's moon falls into the zodiac sign of nurturing Cancer, mbg's resident astrologers, The AstroTwins, recommend using it to reflect on what's happening on the home front.
"This is the grand finale in a two-year series of eclipses landing on the Cancer/Capricorn axis, which have been radically reshuffling the way we work and live since July 2018. It's also the first in a rare duo of back-to-back new moons in Cancer (the next will be on July 20)—making for an emotionally charged summer where home will continue to be a focal point," they write in their monthly astrology forecast.
So whether you're dreaming up a more ergonomic home office setup or a new way to be there for your quarantine housemates right now, look to the ring of fire to shed some light on your next steps.
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