‘Ring of fire’ solar eclipse: How to watch Thursday morning

National News

The annular solar eclipse is seen from the coast of Xiamen, in China’s southeast province of Fujian on May 21, 2012. (Credit: STR/AFP/GettyImages)

(NEXSTAR) — Skywatchers will be treated to a “ring of fire” solar eclipse on Thursday, but their location will determine how much of it they get to see.

Parts of Canada, Greenland, the Arctic Ocean, and Siberia will have a complete view of the narrow path of this year’s first solar eclipse, according to NASA. It will be a partial eclipse for much of the rest of northeastern North America, Greenland, Northern Europe, and northern Asia.

The eclipse will be visible Thursday morning, when a new moon occurs.

Unlike a total solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, causing the sun to be completely blocked, this eclipse will be annular, which only occurs when the moon is in its first phase.

The new moon will be farther from Earth in its elliptical orbit and will appear smaller — too small to cover the sun completely. As a result, a bright ring of sunlight will surround the moon’s silhouette at mid-eclipse. That bright outer rim is known as the “ring of fire.”

“As the pair rises higher in the sky, the silhouette of the Moon will gradually shift off the sun to the lower left, allowing more of the sun to show until the eclipse ends,” NASA said. 

None of the U.S. will see the full annular eclipse, which will last about an hour and 40 minutes.

How to watch 

The new moon will eclipse the sun at 6:53 a.m. ET. Thursday.

Look east to see it, but remember it’s never safe to look directly at the sun unless you wear special eclipse glasses to protect your eyes, even if the sun is partly obscured.

“From the Washington, D.C. area, the moon will be blocking about 80% of the left side of the sun as they rise together in the east-northeast at 5:42 a.m., causing the sun to appear as a crescent,” NASA said.

If you can’t watch in person, a livestream will be available on timeanddate.com.

This will be the first of two solar eclipses in 2021, with a total solar eclipse to occur on Dec. 4.

Tri-state details

Early Thursday morning, some clouds will remain that may hinder the viewing of the partial solar eclipse. The event will be already ongoing at sunrise and coverage will peak out at around 80% at 5:32 a.m. The event will conclude at 6:30 a.m. Look to the northeastern horizon to view the celestial event. 

If heading to see the eclipse, please take proper safety precautions. According to NASA, it is never safe to look directly at the sun’s rays, even if the sun is partly or mostly obscured. When watching the partial solar eclipse, you must wear solar viewing or eclipse glasses throughout the entire eclipse if you want to face the sun. Solar viewing or eclipses glasses are not regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing the sun.

If you don’t have solar viewing or eclipse glasses, you can use an alternate indirect method, such as a pinhole projector. Pinhole projectors shouldn’t be used to look directly at the sun, but instead to project sunlight onto a surface.

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