Ring of Fire Eclipse: How Different is This From a Total Solar Eclipse

By James Morales, | February 27, 2017

A total solar eclipse blocks the Sun's view entirely.  (sancho_panza/CC BY 2.0)

A total solar eclipse blocks the Sun's view entirely. (sancho_panza/CC BY 2.0)

A rare ring of fire eclipse happened last Sunday. The phenomenon is similar to a total solar eclipse when the moon moves between the sun and earth. However, as the name applies, the ring of fire leaves a "fiery" outer ring in view of observers. How could this thing happen after all?

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A total solar eclipse blocks the Sun's view entirely. But with the ring of fire, the moon is at its farthest point from earth which makes it appears smaller than usual - and it blocks the sun partially, giving the effect of a "ring of fire."

But why is the moon's distance from earth gets farther than usual? The moon's orbit is elliptical. Thus, there is a time when the moon orbits far from the earth. The greatest distance of the moon away from earth is called "apogee." An apogee took place during the latest ring of fire eclipse.

The moon, therefore, blocked up to 99 percent of the sun. The path in which the moon passed through is called "path of annularity." This occurs when the moon's shadow covers a part of the earth, which can be about 18-55 miles in width. This is also the area where the ring of fire eclipse was seen.

The eclipse started in Chile at approximately 9:10 a.m. local time, then moved to Argentina, then eastwards to reach African countries including Angola, Zambia, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

A partial solar eclipse was seen as well in countries of South America, western and southern Africa, and Antarctica.

 Another eclipse, the Great American Eclipse, is expected on August 21.


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