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'Ring of fire' solar eclipse set to blot out (most of) the sun this weekend

CNET logo CNET 6/18/2020 Amanda Kooser
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The first of two solar eclipses in 2020 will turn the sun into a glowing "ring of fire" on June 21 (or June 20 depending on where you're located). People along a narrow band of the world will have the chance to see it firsthand.

An annular solar eclipse happens when the moon is too far away from us to completely hide the sun, leaving a circle of brightness around the moon. That is how it gets the poetic "ring of fire" nickname.

The full annular eclipse will be visible from parts of Africa and Asia. "A narrow stripe from Africa to the Pacific Ocean will see the Moon in front of the Sun (blocking 99.4% of the Sun at its peak in northern India) such that only a bright ring is visible," NASA said in a skywatching update for June

a close up of a light: Photographer Kristen M Caldon captured this annular solar eclipse sequence at the Grand Canyon National Park in 2012. © Kristen M. Caldon/Grand Canyon National Park

Photographer Kristen M Caldon captured this annular solar eclipse sequence at the Grand Canyon National Park in 2012.

Time and Date lets you dial in details for your area, and tells you whether you're in line for the full eclipse, a partial eclipse or no eclipse at all. A NASA website also shows the eclipse path on an interactive map and lets you zoom in to find a viewing location. 

Even if you're not in the right geographic spot to catch the eclipse in person, you may still be in luck thanks to the Virtual Telescope Project, which livestreams notable celestial events. Eclipse fans in the US will need to stay up late. The Virtual Telescope Project will kick off coverage at 10:30 p.m. PT on Saturday night. 

The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan will offer a Japanese-language livestream with its view of a partial eclipse starting at 11:45 p.m. PT on Saturday.

This won't be the only eclipse of the year. A total solar eclipse is on tap for Dec. 14 for viewers in parts of South America. 

Watching online isn't the same as being there, but it's still an opportunity to contemplate the wonders of the sun and the moon, and our place in the solar system.

Super blood wolf moon lunar eclipse dazzles in striking photos

The fantastically named "super blood wolf moon" of Jan. 20 and 21 was a stunner combining a total lunar eclipse (blood) with January timing (wolf) and a particularly large appearance due to being closer to the Earth (super).The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society in Michigan delivered an extraordinary set of images showing the moon and the occasional twinkling star around it. The society describes this shot as "cropped and slightly processed." SpaceX founder Elon Musk even shared one of the KAS images, which more than doubled the society's follower count on Twitter.

The fantastically named "super blood wolf moon" of Jan. 20 and 21 was a stunner combining a total lunar eclipse (blood) with January timing (wolf) and a particularly large appearance due to being closer to the Earth (super).The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society in Michigan delivered an extraordinary set of images showing the moon and the occasional twinkling star around it. The society describes this shot as "cropped and slightly processed." SpaceX founder Elon Musk even shared one of the KAS images, which more than doubled the society's follower count on Twitter.
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