LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Our skies will be transformed Saturday morning during a rare “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse.
The eclipse will briefly dim the skies over parts of the western U.S. and Central and South America. As the moon lines up precisely between Earth and the sun, it will blot out all but the sun’s outer rim. A bright, blazing border will appear around the moon for as much as five minutes, wowing skygazers along a narrow path stretching from Oregon to Brazil.
Eyewitness News spoke with NASA expert Anita Dey about the celestial event.
What is the “Ring of fire,” and what can Southern Californians expect to see?
The path of annularity will be from Texas to Oregon, so people in that path are going to see the sun covered by the moon partially, Dey explained. So there is going to be this “ring of fire” where the sun normally is. You’ll see the bright light of the sun somewhat obscured by the moon.
Los Angeles is not quite in the path – but pretty close, Dey said. So in L.A. you’ll see a crescent sun, instead of a crescent moon, which is something most people are quite used to.
Timing of the eclipse
For three hours Saturday starting around 8 a.m., the sun will begin to be blocked by the moon during its orbit.
In California, we’ll start seeing it shortly after 9 a.m. The view from our region will show the moon cover about 70% of the sun. This type of eclipse won’t return to this part of the country until 2046!
How can we safely view the annular eclipse?
Dey emphasized that you should never ever look at the sun directly. If you want to observe the eclipse, you will need some solar viewing glasses or use an indirect viewing method.
Solar viewing glasses are available for purchase at popular retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy and others. They’re also available at the Griffith Observatory, and you can also check if your local library is offering them for free.
One indirect method is using a pinhole camera, which can be naturally made from using the shadows of trees or using items from home.
Drew Tuma, a meteorologist with our San Francisco sister station ABC7 News, described an easy way to make a pinhole camera from home.
“All you need was a cereal box, a white piece of paper and some aluminum foil. So, once again, once you have your viewing device all done, you’re going to want to put your back towards the sun, put your eye in one hole and watch as the sun goes through the other hole,” Tuma said.