Outer space has always piqued public interest, especially because of the beauty and mystery of the skies that lie above our world. Things like shooting stars, comets, and meteorites always give us something to marvel at, but solar eclipses offer a distinct level of excitement. A rare solar eclipse is expected to be visible in North America for the first time in 11 years. The last solar eclipse of its kind took place in May of 2012. The annual solar eclipse, also known as the “ring of fire,” is set to make its way across eight U.S. states beginning on October 13. The “ring of fire” is different from a total solar eclipse for a very distinct reason. According to NASA, this event occurs when “the moon passes between the sun and earth while it’s at its farthest point from the planet.” The result is a spectacularly luminous circle with a flame-like rim. To witness a “ring of fire” is an experience unlike any other.
The solar eclipse can be viewed along a 125-mile path across the country. People residing in Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas have the highest probability of seeing the ring of fire in action. Those who want to get a look at the eclipse from other states will only be able to catch a partial view from afar. The closer stargazers are to the center of the path the eclipse is traveling on, the longer the ring of fire will be visible. This year, astronomers believe the moon will eclipse 91 percent of the sun, allowing for an extremely bright solar event. Special eclipse glasses are recommended for those who want to stare off into the stars without worrying about scorching their retinas.
The rare phenomenon is also being live-streamed at several online locations including San Francisco’s Exploratorium and NASA. There are also a number of in-person events taking place in honor of the unique ring of fire solar eclipse. Oregon, the first state to lay eyes on the ring of fire, is putting on EclipseFest 2023 in Klamath County. It’s also been advised to avoid the coast when trying to view the eclipse in Oregon, due to the sky being covered by mist and clouds.
If you’re in Nevada, the city of Ely will be hosting the Fire Eclipse Festival. The ring of fire is projected to pass over Astronomy Amphitheater for 3 minutes and 48 seconds and then over Ely for a total of 3 minutes and 33 seconds. Though the ring of fire viewing window may be brief, it’s always a worthwhile experience. The longest-lasting moments of the eclipse will take place over the coast of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, with projected visibility lasting 5 minutes and 17 seconds.
Those who have had the opportunity to witness a ring of fire solar eclipse in person have spoken highly of the awe-inspiring experience. NASA astronomer Henry Throop was one of the fortunate few to observe other solar eclipses in all their glory. “It’s only a minute long, but it really felt like a long time,” he said. “There’s nothing else you can see which looks like that. It was just awesome. Spectacular.”