The last solar eclipse of the decade has come to an end, and it’s a special one. This week brings an annular solar eclipse, which creates a “ring of fire” around it — a final Christmas celebration.
On December 26, people in parts of Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa will be in the path for viewing for the eclipse. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, completely blocking the sun’s light. During an annular solar eclipse like this one, the moon does not completely cover the sun as it passes, leaving a glowing ring of sunlight around it.
According to NASA, an annular eclipse can only occur under specific conditions. The moon must be a new moon, meaning it is in its first lunar phase. It must also be further away from Earth on its elliptical orbit, appearing smaller in the sky than it usually would.
Because the moon appears smaller under these circumstances, it cannot fully eclipse the sun — so a “ring of fire” or “ring of light” is formed.
We do not get to see a ‘Ring of Fire’ during all solar eclipses and those solar eclipses where a ‘Ring of Fire’ is visible is called an annular solar eclipse. During such an eclipse, the center of the Sun is covered by the Moon in such a way that the outer edge of the Sun is left visible and it looks like a ring. When viewed from a long distance it looks like a ring of fire around the Moon called the ‘annulus’. However, when an annular solar eclipse takes place, the ‘Ring of Fire’ is not visible from all places on earth. As a result of which the annular solar eclipse may look like a partial solar eclipse.