On Oct. 14, 2023, an annular eclipse was visible in certain parts of North, Central and South America. Otherwise known as a “ring of fire” solar eclipse, this marks the first time an annular eclipse has graced these parts of the U.S. skies since 2012.
Annular eclipses occur when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, until it causes that “ring of fire.” The next annular eclipse visible in the U.S. will not be until 2039 and will be the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.
Skywatchers geared up for the event with cameras, telescopes, lawn chairs and solar-protected glasses, taking off for areas where the eclipse would reach full visibility. Heading south on Route 6 meant a steady stream of people headed out to find the perfect spot to camp out and look at the sky. A small crowd gathered in the small northwestern park in the town of Lynndyl while others stopped along the highway to watch.
For about four minutes, the “ring of fire” remained aglow in the sky for spectators to enjoy. In the small crowd at Lynndyl Park, a roar of excitement went up when the eclipse finally reached totality. According to The Washington Post, NASA ambassador Tony Rice stated that Earth is the only place that has total solar and annular eclipses.
“It’s a really great opportunity to get a feeling for your place in the solar system,” stated Rice. “Especially when you see the difference between the annular eclipse in October and the total eclipse in April – because it shows the moon’s varying distance.”
For those wanting to prepare for the 2024 total eclipse, Michael E. Bakich of Astronomy Magazine suggests requesting work off. The eclipse in April is on a Monday, and totality is only available to see in certain locations. Utah is not one of those places. Bakich suggests making a weekend out of it and traveling to the nearest location where totality will be visible. For Utahns, that will be Texas.
Those looking for more information about preparing for the 2024 eclipse can visit www.nasa.gov.