Check out a ‘Ring of Fire’ eclipse over Africa

Image: Annular eclipse
A series of images shows the progression of the Sept. 1 annular solar eclipse as seen from Reunion Island. (Credit: Slooh / Weathernews Japan)

An annular solar eclipse swept across Africa today, treating skywatchers to a “Ring of Fire” eclipse and whetting appetites for next August’s all-American total eclipse.

The eclipse occurred in the middle of the night, Seattle time, but it was prime time for a roughly 100-mile wide swath of territory stretching from Gabon on Africa’s west coast to Mozambique, Madagascar and Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.Those places are where the “Ring of Fire” effect was visible in all its glory.

Annular solar eclipses are similar to total eclipses, except that the orbital positions of the sun, moon and Earth are such that the moon doesn’t quite cover up all of the solar disk. As a result, the dark moon is surrounded by a blazing O.

About 3,000 eclipse fans gathered on Reunion Island to witness the spectacle, Reuters reported. “I saw a solar eclipse … but I have never seen an annular solar eclipse,” Austrian tourist Beate Sosz was quoted as saying. “It is great.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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