What Is an Annular Eclipse?

  • Released Friday, April 14th, 2023
  • Updated Wednesday, November 1st, 2023 at 3:08PM

On Oct. 14, 2023, an annular solar eclipse will cross North, Central, and South America. Visible in parts of the United States, Mexico, and many countries in South and Central America, millions of people in the Western Hemisphere can experience this eclipse. But what is an annular eclipse? Why does it happen? And why does it create a “ring of fire” in the sky?

An annular solar eclipse photographed on May 20, 2012. Credit: NASA/Bill Dunford

An annular solar eclipse photographed on May 20, 2012.
Credit: NASA/Bill Dunford

An annular eclipse creates a "ring of fire" around the Moon, similar to that seen in this image taken by JAXA/NASA Hinode spacecraft on January 4, 2011.

An annular eclipse creates a "ring of fire" around the Moon, similar to that seen in this image taken by JAXA/NASA Hinode spacecraft on January 4, 2011.

Shadow of an annular eclipse seen from the International Space Station on May 20, 2012.Credit: NASA/Don Pettit

Shadow of an annular eclipse seen from the International Space Station on May 20, 2012.
Credit: NASA/Don Pettit

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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