Annular Solar Eclipse: October 14, 2023

annular eclipse

Where and when to see the "Ring of Fire"

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The 2024 Old Farmer's Almanac

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The “Ring of Fire” annular solar eclipse sweeps across the Americas on Saturday, October 14. Find out if you’re amongst the 31.5 million people who live on the eclipse path; if not, see a link to watch live from the comfort of your living room!

You’ve probably seen the news flashes: Two major eclipses will happen in the next seven months. Each will be seen from widespread parts of North America. Both have intriguing names: “Final Total Solar Eclipse” (the last one for almost a quarter century) and the “Ring of Fire Eclipse.”

Today, we’ll talk about the “Ring of Fire” annular solar eclipse. It’s got the advantage of hype with that wonderful, evocative nickname that matches the iconic Johnny Cash breakout hit. Plus, it has a path that crosses much of the United States.

The 2023 Annual Eclipse Path

To see the ring of fire, you must be located along the path of annularity. On the map below, see the path that begins in Oregon at 9:13 a.m. PDT and ends in Texas at 12:03 p.m. CDT. Only the locations along the path will see the Moon (almost) cover the Sun. 

map of the total solar eclipse and annular solar eclipse
See enlarged eclipse map. Credit: NASA

The below chart, courtesy of NASA, lists cities along the path of annularity. See more local details on the American Astronomy Society Web site

NASA chart  cities along the path of annularity.

See It Live: NASA Webcast

If you’re NOT among those who live in the central path of the eclipse (or you have clouds), don’t fret. 

You can also watch the eclipse LIVE on October 14, 2023, on the NASA webcast from 10:30 A.M. CDT to 12:15 P.M. CDT

This show will include conversations with scientists to help you understand what you’re seeing. Plus, they’ll feed telescope views from across the country—almost as if you’re looking through your own lens.

What is an Annular Eclipse? 

It’s called an “annular” eclipse because “annulus” means “ring.” (Note: It is NOT “annular” as in yearly.) 

During this type of eclipse, it will appear as if the Sun forms a ring around the Moon mid-eclipse. This happens because the disk of the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth at the farthest point from our planet. 

The Moon is too far away and too small to fully obscure the Sun. Instead, the outer circumference of the Sun will remain blindingly shining all around the black New Moon, resembling a  “ring of fire.”

But our real question remains: Will this constitute a true spectacle? Is it up there with that other stuff, like solar totality or a major aurora? 

Truth be told, this is a partial eclipse no matter where you go. No totality ever happens. No prominences, no corona, no animals going crazy, no darkness at noon. 

However, it can come close if—a big if—this kind of eclipse occurs very near sunrise or sunset. That’s what happened 31 years ago in southern California. If the burning “ring of fire” is on or near the horizon, people can view it directly, just as we’ve all safely gazed at red sunsets. Then you’d see it surrounded by trees and the ocean or natural objects, making it look fantastic. 

But if—as is the case this time—the partially eclipsed Sun is high in the sky, then one must only view it through a filter. It is NEVER safe to look directly at the Sun. Learn more about solar eclipse glasses and how to watch a solar eclipse safely.

annular eclipse infographic


What to Watch During the Annular Eclipse

For an annular eclipse, you will first see the Moon start to move across the Sun’s face. Note how the Sun looks like a crescent in the photo below. Yes, it’s similar to a Moon crescent, but it’s the Sun!

A partial solar eclipse with the United States Capitol Building on June 10, 2021. Credit: NASA
A partial solar eclipse with the United States Capitol Building on June 10, 2021. Credit: NASA

Then, it’s time for the period known as annularity. About an hour and 20 minutes after the partial eclipse phase begins, the Moon will almost fully obscure the Sun. As I mentioned, it’s not a perfect fit so there will be a “ring of fire” surrounding the Sun. The sky will not darken like a total solar eclipse but it will dim. You may feel the temperature drop.

Look at your surroundings when the annular eclipse reaches its maximum extent. Illuminated only by light from the Sun’s limb or edge, familiar earthly objects like sidewalks and cars take on a strange, yellowish, highly contrasty appearance that should not be missed. Thus, amazingly, the best part of a deep partial eclipse is not observing the Sun itself, but everything else around you!    

Get Your Eclipse Glasses Ready

If you take a look at the partial eclipse on October 14, be sure to obtain eclipse glasses ahead of time. And if you’re really into this kind of thing, travel to place yourself inside the path of annularity. For over an hour you’ll see only a partial eclipse, but for a few minutes it’ll appear as a brilliant ring. 

As for the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse: That you must not miss, no matter what you have to do. Mortgage the house. Sell the kids for lab experiments. Quit your job. Miss this and your next chance to catch a US solar totality won’t happen until August 12, 2045. 

Place yourself in the path of totality on the afternoon of April 8, 2023, and you’ll witness the most amazing thing your eyes have ever seen. See the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Guide for more information.   

About The Author

Bob Berman

Bob Berman, astronomer editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob is the world’s most widely read astronomer and has written ten popular books. Read More from Bob Berman

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