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Early risers in the Northern Hemisphere can see what looks like a “ring of fire” in the sky Thursday morning when the moon passes between Earth and the sun.
The solar eclipse, expected around sunrise, it will appear that way because the moon is at or near the most distant point in its elliptical orbit around Earth right now, so when it passes between us and our closest star, it will block only part of the sun. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon covers the entire sun so that only a haze of light is seen around the darkened moon.
Instead, humans will see one of two places on Thursday morning:
Annular solar eclipse: This is when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth and appears very small. The entire moon passes in front of the sun, creating what looks like a donut hole in the middle of the star.
Partial solar eclipse: This occurs when the three celestial bodies are not perfectly aligned, so that only part of the moon passes in front of the sun. In this case, the sun will appear to have taken a little off.
Only a few people will be able to see an annular solar eclipse on Thursday.
But even a partial eclipse will still appear as if “the ‘Death Star’ is facing the sun when it rises,” Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, told Space.com.
Where you can see the eclipse
According to NASA, viewers in the southeastern, northeastern, and midwestern continental United States, as well as northern Alaska, will be able to see a partial eclipse before, during, and just after sunrise.
A partial eclipse will also be visible over much of Canada, as well as parts of Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the Caribbean.
People in parts of Canada, Greenland and northern Russia will be able to view the annular eclipse, the agency said.
The stream, which begins at 5 am ET although sunrise will not begin until 5:47 am, will show a partial solar eclipse.
How to look at the sun safely
What you heard as a child is true: it is not safe to look directly at the sun, even if it is partially covered by the moon.
That is why NASA recommends wearing “solar or eclipse viewing glasses” throughout the voyage. Regular sunglasses don’t count.
Didn’t we just have an eclipse?
Yes! But that was a little different.
You may be thinking about the Super Flower Blood Moon lunar eclipse that occurred in late May.
The Earth passed directly between the sun and the moon, which gave the moon a deep red hue in some parts of the world.
The lunar eclipse and the solar eclipse are happening so close together because the moon is traveling roughly in the same plane this month, according to GoScienceGo.com. One day, the moon will align with the sun on one side of the Earth, and about 15 days later it will align with the sun on the other side.