African Ring of Fire to show up at annular solar eclipse

Set your watches for tomorrow's skylight extravaganza

A solar eclipse. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Tomorrow’s morning sky will be temporarily blotted by an inky blackness as the Sun disappears behind the moon, leaving a dazzling ‘ring of fire’ in an annular solar eclipse over Africa.

For those who aren’t lucky enough to observe this phenomenon, robotic telescope service Slooh will host live coverage of the event on the web.

The show begins at 06:45 UTC (07:45 BST or 02:45 ET) and viewers will be guided by British astronomer, Paul Cox.

Starting with Slooh’s flagship observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics on the Canary Islands, the broadcast will move across to South Africa, Tanzania, Madagascar, and finally Réunion Island.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when a new moon passes over the Sun but doesn’t completely block out the light. The edges of the Sun are still visible, allowing a ring of sunlight to seep through behind the moon.

Observers will see the moon’s antumbra shadow - the silhouette that extends from the moon’s umbra shadow - projected onto the Earth.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Unlike total eclipses, where the moon is at its perigee - the closest approach to Earth, annular solar eclipses only appear if the moon is at its apogee - the furthest point away from Earth.

The apogee moon is at the edge of its elliptical orbit - 405,504 km from Earth - making it appear smaller.

The link to the Slooh’s African Ring of Fire show can be found here.

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