Night Sky Gaze
An artistic rendition of a Solar Eclipse seen from high above the planet

Stargazing: “Ring of Fire” Eclipse Coming on December 26

If you’ll be in the Eastern Hemisphere on Boxing Day, you’re in luck: the last solar eclipse of the 2010’s will be visible in parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. Unfortunately for stargazers in the US, the eclipse won’t be visible at all from the Western Hemisphere. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the last eclipse of the year.

“Ring of Fire” Appearance

This eclipse won’t fully cover the sun, as the moon is currently a bit further from Earth than it normally is.  As such, the moon’s umbra, or the darkest part of the cone of its shadow, will miss the Earth entirely. Instead, the eclipse will have the appearance of a new moon that is ringed by flames. This “ring of fire” appearance makes for a fitting end to the year, and the decade.

When the eclipse occurs, the moon will be roughly 238,700 miles from Earth, nearing its apogee. The most recent perigee, the point when the moon is closest to Earth, occurred on December 18, and brought the natural satellite to a distance of 230,000 miles from our planet.

How to View the Eclipse

This eclipse will sweep across several highly-populated regions and will be visible in an arcing band roughly 88 miles wide. Through parts of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, India, Guam and the Philippines, and numerous other countries, the eclipse will appear for under three minutes or so. Additionally, nearly all of Asia, many parts of northeast Africa and even sections of Australia will be able to see a partial eclipse.

If you will be in the path of the eclipse and want to observe it, make sure you use proper eyewear. You should never look directly at the sun, and the same goes for solar eclipses. Those planning to view the eclipse should get eclipse glasses, a pinhole viewer, or some similar proper eyewear that will allow them to indirectly view the eclipse.

For those in North America who are saddened that they won’t see this eclipse, there is something to look forward to. Another solar eclipse will be visible from the US on October 14, 2023. This eclipse will be widely visible across most of the US.

Cameron Norris