See a 'Ring of Fire' Annular Solar Eclipse Thursday Via Slooh Webcast
A spectacular "ring of fire" solar eclipse will darken skies over Africa early Thursday morning (Sept. 1), and people anywhere in the world can watch the event live during a free webcast by the Slooh Community Observatory.
The show will feature live telescope shots from Slooh's flagship observatory in the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, as well as views from South Africa, Tanzania, Madagascar and tiny Réunion Island. You can watch the webcast at Slooh.com, beginning at 2:45 a.m. EDT Thursday (0645 GMT).
"We're in for one heck of a ride as we follow the moon's shadow as it races across the surface of the Earth at over 2,000 mph," Slooh astronomer Paul Cox said in a statement. "We've got a terrific lineup of expert guests on the show — everything from the science of eclipses through to how they affect us psychologically, and a look at how mankind has treated these amazing celestial events in the past."
In "ring of fire" (also known as "annular") solar eclipses, the moon doesn't quite blot out the sun, leaving a thin ring blazing around the edge of the solar disk. Such events occur when the moon is relatively far from Earth in its elliptical orbit. (Total solar eclipses occur when the moon is closer to Earth, and therefore big enough in our sky to block the sun completely.)
The ring effect will be visible only from a narrow band that cuts across the Atlantic Ocean, south-central Africa, parts of Madagascar, Réunion and the southern Indian Ocean. But most of Africa will be treated to a partial eclipse, as will parts of the Arabian Peninsula and slivers of Indonesia and Western Australia.
Thursday's event is the second solar eclipse of 2016; the first was a total eclipse on March 8-9, which was visible from Indonesia and the Pacific Ocean region. Another annular solar eclipse, visible from parts of southern Chile, Argentina and Africa, will occur in February 2017. Then, on Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will darken skies over a long stretch of the continental United States.
Warning: Never look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse, without proper eye protection; serious and permanent vision damage can result.
Viewers can ask questions and interact with the host and guests during Thursday's eclipse show by tweeting @Slooh or by joining the http://www.slooh.com.
Eclipse in Africa: 'Ring of Fire' eclipse wows stargazers
Stargazers in parts of Africa have been treated to a spectacular "ring of fire" in the sky as the sun was almost - but not completely - eclipsed.
An annular eclipse happens when the moon is farther away from the Earth than during a total eclipse.
The result is a bright circle of sunshine surrounding a dark, shadowy core.
The best views were seen in Tanzania, where the event lasted about three minutes.
The eclipse could also be viewed in parts of Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.
The moon does not move in a perfect circle around the earth - instead, its orbit is slightly elliptical. That means the distance of the moon varies between around 225,000-252,000 miles (362,000-405,555 km).
When the moon is farther away from the earth, it appears smaller - and does not totally cover the sun's disc during a total eclipse. The result is also known as a "ring of fire" eclipse.
The next eclipse is due to take place in February 2017, and can be seen from parts of South America and Africa.