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Get Ready for a Ring of Fire

On October 14, part of the world will experience an annular solar eclipse.

The Moon is in front of the Sun with a ring of light visible around the edges, against a red sky.

© Matthew Starling—iStock/Getty Images Plus

During an annular solar eclipse, the only part of the Sun that’s visible is a “ring of fire.”

On October 14, 2023, parts of the Western Hemisphere will experience an annular solar eclipse. The sky won’t go dark. Instead, the Sun and the Moon will align to form a “ring of fire.”

An annular eclipse is different from a total solar eclipse. During a total eclipse, the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, blocking the Sun and causing the sky to go dark for a brief time. An annular eclipse happens when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun but is at or near its farthest point from Earth. (Remember, the Moon’s orbit is elliptical, or oval shaped.) Since the Moon is a bit smaller in the sky, it doesn’t block the Sun completely, and a thin ring of light is visible—what some people call a ring of fire.

Annular eclipses are visible only in a zone called the path of annularity. The October 14 event will be visible in parts of Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It can also be seen in parts of Mexico, Central America, and South America.

A partial solar eclipse will be visible in other places. Because less of the Sun will be blocked, people in those locations won’t see the ring of fire.

In the United States, the annular eclipse will first be visible in part of Oregon at 9:13 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and last be visible in part of Texas at 12:03 p.m. Central Daylight Time. The eclipse will then move over Mexico and Central America and, finally, South America.

If you have the opportunity to view the annular or partial eclipse, be safe. Don’t look at the Sun unless you’re wearing eclipse glasses or solar viewers. Regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing an eclipse.

NEWS EXTRA

Fat Bear Week

A large brown bear stands in shallow, moving water.

F. Jimenez/NPS

The voters have spoken! The 2023 winner of Fat Bear Week is a brown bear named 128 Grazer. 

Fat Bear Week is a yearly online contest in which the public picks its favorite out of 12 bears at Katmai National Park in Alaska. This time of year, the park’s bears are gobbling up salmon, fattening up so they can spend the winter hibernating. 

128 Grazer defeated the other finalist, 32 Chunk, getting 108,321 votes. The winning bear is a talented fisher-bear, able to get even the quickest salmon out of the water. She’s also given birth to two litters and is a protective mom to her cubs.

“[Grazer’s] combination of skill and toughness makes her one of [the river’s] most formidable, successful, and adaptable bears,” the National Park Service said.

Did You Know?

Carvings in a stone show circles within circles.

Courtesy of Michael Fox-Boynevalleytours.com

Have humans been recording eclipses for more than 5,000 years? Scientist Paul Griffin believes that a stone carving in Ireland dating back to around 3300 BCE represents a near-total solar eclipse. The carving shows large concentric circles being partially covered by smaller concentric circles. Griffin thinks these circles represent the Sun (the larger object) being blocked by the Moon.

Griffin calculated that an eclipse took place in 3340 BCE, which means he could be right about the meaning of the stone carving.

Mapping the Eclipse

The annular eclipse will be most visible within the yellow path shown on this map. Do you live anywhere near there?

A map of North and South America with a narrow yellow band running through a portion of each.

© Great American Eclipse, LLC (https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/)

When Celestial Objects Align

Four photos showing a solar eclipse, as well as people and a dog wearing eclipse glasses.

© Matt Anderson Photography—Moment, Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images, © Scaliger, Mira Agron/Dreamstime.com; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

With the right precautions (a pair of eclipse glasses), you can view eclipses that are visible in your area. 

We know what happens when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun. Do Mercury and Venus ever pass between Earth and the Sun—and what happens then? Find out at Britannica!

WORD OF THE DAY

obscure

PART OF SPEECH:
verb
Definition:
: to hide or cover (something) : to be in front of (something) so that it cannot be seen
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See if you can figure out the word. Type your guess. If a letter circle turns green, it is in the right place. If a letter circle turns gold, the letter is somewhere in the word, but it’s in the wrong place. All other letters are not part of the word.

You get six chances.

O
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O
O
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