See today’s rare ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse in stunning, fiery photos


The eclipse thrilled sky watchers and photographers, and the images don’t disappoint.

A partial solar eclipse is in process as seen from Toronto.

Sunrise was odd enough for a large portion of the eastern half of North America on Thursday morning. Depending on your location, the Sun may appear like a crescent, which is more similar to a waning or diminishing Moon than the Sun.

The effect is thanks to a partial solar eclipse, when the Moon’s black disk aligns itself between Earth and the Sun to block out some or almost all of it, depending on when and where you see the event. This type of event is a boon for photographers.

Because the timing of this eclipse was lined up with sunrise over much of America’s eastern coastline, many great images were captured with a wide open horizon facing east. Some landmarks like the Delaware Breakwater Lighthouse, seen below, also add some nice perspective.

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Taken near Lewis Beach, Delaware.

At just the right time, the sunrise profile looked like a fiery horn emanating from behind the horizon, not the more familiar disc we’re used to:

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A partial solar eclipse is seen when the Sun rises on the left side of the United States Capitol building.

Unlike a total solar eclipse, which can completely block out the Sun for a few terrifying moments, it was an annular eclipse. This means that due to the distance between the Sun, Moon and Earth this week, the Moon does not completely block the Sun, but rather releases a ring of massive fireballs, hence the nickname “Ring of Fire”. There is an eclipse.

However, this part of the event was visible only from a relatively narrow (and largely uninhabited) corridor that passed from Ontario in the north through Greenland to the North Pole and continued south into parts of Siberia. It is a very inhospitable piece of earth.

This did not prevent intrepid photographers in some settlements from capturing this unique celestial phenomenon. Vini Karetak captures the Ring of Fire from Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada:

For those not on that path, however, another option was to look for the Ring of Fire. Sky & Telescope magazine hired a special flight to fly through the annular path and get photographers as close to the eclipse as possible without actually leaving the atmosphere.

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Photographer Eliot Herman took this photo from about 39,000 feet in Ontario.

After each solar eclipse, we’re left with a wealth of amazing new images and inspiration to plan ahead for the next one. Unfortunately, the only other eclipse in 2021 is arguably even more difficult to fully experience. The path of totality will only pass over Antarctica for the most part, leading to a total solar eclipse on December 4.

Another annular ring of fire eclipse will pass through western US and Central America on October 14, 2023.

There is plenty of time for preparation.

If you have any epic shots of this eclipse, please share them with me on Twitter @EricCMack.

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