Annular Solar Eclipse Sweeps Across the Americas, Eliciting Euphoric Reactions

by Michael Nguyen
annular solar eclipse

The skies gradually dimmed, followed by crescent-like formations cast upon the Earth, culminating in an outpouring of jubilant applause from spectators who assembled on Saturday to witness an uncommon annular solar eclipse, colloquially known as a “ring of fire.”

This celestial occurrence was observed by millions throughout the Americas, as the moon took its position, and a radiant ring materialized in the sky.

In Albuquerque, where the eclipse occurred simultaneously with an international hot air balloon festival that typically attracts a large global audience of spectators and balloon pilots, exclamations of awe and wonderment resounded. Participants were doubly fortunate, as hot air balloons ascended in a coordinated launch shortly after daybreak, followed by the eclipse a few hours later. Propane burners on some balloons were synchronized to release flames skyward as the extraordinary event unfolded.

Allan Hahn, hailing from Aurora, Colorado, who piloted the balloon named Heaven Bound Too—one of 72 chosen for a special illumination event as twilight approached—commented on the serendipitous merging of their passion for aviation with the natural marvel of an eclipse.

Distinct from a total solar eclipse, an annular eclipse occurs when the moon does not entirely obscure the sun, leaving a glowing perimeter. As the moon positioned itself between the Earth and the sun, observers in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, were amongst the witnesses to the annular phase of the eclipse on Saturday, October 14, 2023.

The eclipse’s trajectory spanned multiple states in the U.S., including Oregon, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas, with portions of California, Arizona, and Colorado also witnessing the event. It then proceeded to countries in Latin America, such as Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil. Other regions in the Western Hemisphere experienced a partial eclipse.

Weather conditions were crucial for a clear viewing experience, and live streaming was provided by NASA and other organizations.

In Cancun, Mexico, hundreds congregated at the planetarium, using an array of viewing instruments, including box projectors, telescopes, and specialized eyewear. Emotional responses ranged from children whistling in enthusiasm to adults gesturing towards the sky in a welcoming manner.

Pilar Cáceres, a 77-year-old retired educator, remarked on the invigorating energy that the event bestows and pondered how the Maya civilization, renowned astronomers yet superstitious about eclipses, might have reacted.

In the United States, devotees of the event sought remote vistas for optimum observation. In Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, enthusiasts commenced their trek before dawn to secure prime viewing locations. Audible cheers reverberated through the canyon as the ring fully formed.

Localities along the eclipse’s path felt a combination of anticipation and apprehension about accommodating the influx of tourists. In Eugene, Oregon, reactions were mixed; intermittent cloud cover obstructed the eclipse at times.

The event’s entire duration ranged from two and a half to three hours, with the “ring of fire” phase lasting between three to five minutes, depending on the location. The next total solar eclipse is anticipated in April, traversing the U.S. in a different pattern, originating from Mexico and concluding in eastern Canada.

Another annular solar eclipse is expected in October of next year at the southern tip of South America, followed by an occurrence in Antarctica in 2026. The United States will not witness another such event until 2039, with Alaska being the sole state in its direct trajectory.

Contributions to this comprehensive report were made by Rush from Eugene, Oregon, as well as AP reporters Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Brady McCombs in Garfield County, Utah; Astrid Suarez in Bogota, Colombia; María Verza in Cancun, Mexico; Iván Valencia from Tatacoa Desert, Colombia; and Mauricio Savarese in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about annular solar eclipse

What is the main celestial event covered in this text?

The main celestial event covered in this article is the annular solar eclipse, commonly known as a “ring of fire” eclipse, that occurred on October 14, 2023.

Where did the annular solar eclipse primarily occur?

The eclipse was visible across various states in the U.S., including Oregon, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas, and extended into Central and South America, covering countries like Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil.

What was unique about the event in Albuquerque?

In Albuquerque, the annular solar eclipse coincided with an international hot air balloon festival, which is a major event that usually draws tens of thousands of spectators and hundreds of hot air balloon pilots globally.

How long did the ‘ring of fire’ portion of the eclipse last?

The ‘ring of fire’ portion of the eclipse lasted between three to five minutes, depending on the viewer’s geographic location.

How did people in different regions react to the eclipse?

Reactions varied from cheers and shouts of joy to more reflective moments, considering the historical and cultural significance of such celestial events. People used various means to view the eclipse, including box projectors, telescopes, and special glasses.

What was the impact of weather conditions on the event?

The weather had a varying impact; while some regions had clear skies that made for optimal viewing, part of the U.S. path could see clouds, affecting visibility. In Eugene, Oregon, for example, the eclipse was intermittently visible due to cloud cover.

How did the event impact small towns along its path?

For small towns and cities along the path of the eclipse, there was a mix of excitement and concerns about potential overcrowding due to visitors flocking to see the annular solar eclipse.

When is the next annular solar eclipse expected to occur?

The next annular solar eclipse is expected to occur in October of the following year at the southernmost tip of South America. The United States will not witness another such event until 2039, visible only in Alaska.

Were there any special accommodations for visually impaired people?

In southern Colombia, astronomers helped a group of visually impaired individuals experience the eclipse through raised maps and temperature changes.

What were some of the cultural perspectives shared in the text?

The text touched on how different cultures, including the Maya civilization, viewed eclipses historically. For instance, the Maya were said to have used dark volcanic glass to protect their eyes and may have considered eclipses as fearful phenomena.

More about annular solar eclipse

  • NASA’s Overview of Annular Solar Eclipses
  • International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque
  • Cultural Perspectives on Solar Eclipses: Maya Civilization
  • Weather Impact on Viewing Solar Eclipses
  • Viewing Techniques and Safety Measures for Solar Eclipses
  • Future Solar Eclipses: Dates and Paths
  • Solar Eclipse Experiences for the Visually Impaired
  • Public Reactions to Celestial Events: A Sociological Study

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SarahQ October 15, 2023 - 1:15 am

i was in Utah for this. Totally breathtaking! words can’t describe. The ring of fire part was surreal.

DanO October 15, 2023 - 4:32 am

being in Albuquerque must’ve been a double treat, huh? Hot air balloons and a celestial spectacle. Jealous of anyone who was there.

JessR October 15, 2023 - 5:04 am

My kids were so excited to watch it through the telescope. They’re into astronomy now, asking when’s the next one lol.

NinaT October 15, 2023 - 8:20 am

This is so well-written, like a whole journey through the Americas. Gives u insight not just about the eclipse but the culture and people too.

Paul_G October 15, 2023 - 11:57 am

In Eugene, the clouds ruined it a bit but still a once in a lifetime experience. Anyone knows when’s the next one in the US?

MikeJ October 15, 2023 - 2:00 pm

Wow, reading this felt like I was right there watching the eclipse! Seriously, who wouldn’t wanna be in Albuquerque with the balloons and all? epic moment for sure.

Vicky_M October 15, 2023 - 5:03 pm

Did anybody else think about how the Maya would’ve seen this? Loved that bit of historical perspective in the article. Makes u think.

Liam_S October 15, 2023 - 7:17 pm

Must’ve been insane for the visually impaired in Colombia, experiencing it through temperature changes and raised maps. How cool is that?


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