What is the ring of fire?

A RING of fire is an effect caused during a particular type of solar eclipse.

Here’s what we know about the spectacular event.

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A total eclipse seen from Piedra del Aquila, Neuquen province, Argentina on December 14, 2020[/caption]

What is the ring of fire?

The ring of fire occurs during an annular or partial solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth.

During an annular eclipse, the moon is far enough away from the Earth so the Moon appears smaller than the sun in the sky.

As it appears to be smaller, it doesn’t completely block out the sun so when it passes in front of the sun it leaves a circular, orangey-red ring-like border to the human eye.

That effect is called an “annulus” or ring of fire around the moon.


A rare ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse as seen from the south Indian city of Dindigul in Tamil Nadu state on December 26, 2019[/caption]

Why is it called the ring of fire?

It gets its name from its circular shape and colour.

With the moon appearing smaller than the sun it leaves a ring-like shape as it passes directly in front of it.

The darkness of the moon is in sharp contrast with the brightness of the edge of the sun that is still visible, giving it a flame-like colour.


A partial solar eclipse is visible from Bangkok, Thailand, 21 June 2020[/caption]

How often does it occur?

There is no regular occurrence for the ring of fire display but they occur every one or two years.

It depends when all three bodies are aligned although variations occur because the moon’s orbit around the Earth is elliptical causing the distance the moon is from the Earth varies.

This in turn affects the type of solar eclipse seen when all three are aligned.

A ring of fire will appear during the next solar eclipse on June 10, 2021 although while Brits will be able to see the eclipse they won’t get to see the ring of fire.

People in northern Greenland, parts of nearby Baffin Bay, eastern Hudson Bay and northeastern Russia will sit in the path of the ring of fire.

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