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Enthusiastic Onlookers Witness ‘Annular Solar Eclipse’ Spanning from Oregon to Brazil

by Madison Thomas
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Annular Solar Eclipse

Spectators in Oregon and New Mexico were filled with jubilation this Saturday as a rare annular solar eclipse, commonly referred to as the “ring of fire,” commenced its awe-inspiring display across the American continents. The anticipation had reached a fever pitch among millions who awaited this astronomical event.

The occurrence was captured via a NASA livestream in Eugene, Oregon, shortly after 9:15 a.m. local time, following an hour of a partial solar eclipse. Small municipalities and urban centers along the event’s slender trajectory experienced a blend of exhilaration, weather-related anxieties, and apprehensions about an influx of visitors eager to witness the spectacle. Unfortunate weather conditions, including cloud cover and fog, posed challenges for ideal viewing in western states such as California and Oregon.

As the phase of totality initiated in Eugene, Oregon, exclamations of awe mingled with sighs of letdown as the solar spectacle was periodically concealed by cloud cover, revealing the sun’s rays intermittently as they broke through gaps in the clouds behind the lunar disc.

In Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, observers saw the moon interpose itself between Earth and the sun during the distinctive “ring of fire” eclipse on Saturday, October 14, 2023. In New Mexico, spectators were treated to an unfettered celestial display thanks to unclouded skies. The experience was doubly special as the eclipse coincided with an international hot air balloon festival that attracts nearly 100,000 attendees each year for a large-scale lift-off of vibrant balloons.

To facilitate safe viewing, 80,000 pairs of protective eyewear were distributed on Saturday morning. Enthusiasm reached a climax as the ring materialized, punctuated by applause and celebratory noises from hot air balloon operators using propane burners to project flames skyward.

Allan Hahn, a seasoned participant in the festival hailing from Aurora, Colorado, was one of the balloon pilots chosen for a unique “glow” act synchronized with the darkening sky during the eclipse. He expressed his excitement about the extraordinary convergence of his passion for aviation and the natural wonder of a solar eclipse.

Unlike a total solar eclipse, an annular solar eclipse does not result in the moon fully obscuring the sun. When aligned between Earth and the sun, the moon leaves a radiant, fiery outline. The eclipse’s trajectory included a swath of states in the United States—Oregon, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas—before moving on to countries in Central and South America.

Those who traveled great distances for optimum viewing gathered in isolated locations, such as Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah, to claim their preferred observational spots. John Edwards, who journeyed across the nation for this unique occurrence, remarked that rare events like these serve as unifying experiences.

The eclipse was also accessible to individuals on the East Coast, although they experienced a less extensive display—approximately a quarter eclipse around midday in cities like New York. Astronomy centers and planetariums, like the Versant Power Astronomy Center at the University of Maine, made accommodations for public viewing, even offering protective eyewear for purchase.

International venues also participated in the event. In Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert, astronomers aided visually impaired individuals in experiencing the eclipse through tactile maps and temperature fluctuations. Meanwhile, at the Cancun Planetarium in Mexico, younger visitors crafted box projectors for safe indirect observation.

Authorities in regions along the eclipse’s path prepared for an influx of spectators, urging local communities to be well-prepared for potential logistical challenges. The event was expected to draw large crowds to various national parks and other outdoor venues, setting attendance records at some locations.

The annular eclipse had a duration of approximately 2.5 to 3 hours at any given location, with the “ring of fire” phase lasting between three to five minutes, depending on one’s geographical location. The next total solar eclipse is anticipated for April of the following year, while the succeeding “ring of fire” eclipse is expected to be visible in South America’s southernmost tip come next October.


Reporting was contributed from Albuquerque, New Mexico by Oyan; additional contributions were made by 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; and Mauricio Savarese in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Annular Solar Eclipse

What is an annular solar eclipse?

An annular solar eclipse, commonly known as the “ring of fire,” occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun but does not completely obscure the sun. This leaves a radiant, fiery outline of the sun visible in the sky.

When and where did this specific annular solar eclipse take place?

The annular solar eclipse occurred on Saturday, October 14, 2023. The path of the eclipse included states in the United States such as Oregon, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas, and extended to countries in Central and South America.

How were people able to safely view the eclipse?

Around 80,000 pairs of protective eyewear were distributed to facilitate safe viewing of the eclipse. In addition, some planetariums and astronomy centers provided safety glasses for purchase.

What was the duration of this annular solar eclipse?

The entire eclipse lasted approximately 2.5 to 3 hours at any given location. The “ring of fire” phase of the eclipse lasted between three to five minutes, depending on one’s geographical location.

Was the weather conducive for viewing the eclipse everywhere?

No, the weather was not ideal for eclipse viewing in all locations. Cloud cover and fog posed challenges in some western states, including California and Oregon.

Were there any special events coinciding with the eclipse?

Yes, in New Mexico the eclipse coincided with an international hot air balloon festival, making the event doubly special for the tens of thousands of spectators in attendance.

How did authorities prepare for the influx of visitors?

Authorities in regions along the eclipse’s path prepared for an increase in the number of spectators by issuing advisories for residents to stock up on essential supplies. Some venues were expected to reach record attendance levels due to the eclipse.

How did international venues participate in the event?

In Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert, astronomers aided visually impaired individuals in experiencing the eclipse through tactile maps and temperature fluctuations. At the Cancun Planetarium in Mexico, young visitors crafted box projectors for safe indirect observation of the eclipse.

What is the next expected solar eclipse event?

The next total solar eclipse is anticipated for April of the following year, and it will span from Mexico to New England before concluding in eastern Canada. The succeeding “ring of fire” eclipse is expected in October of the next year, visible at the southernmost tip of South America.

Were any special measures taken for visually impaired individuals?

Yes, in Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert, astronomers helped a group of visually impaired people experience the eclipse through raised maps and temperature changes as the moon obscured the sun.

More about Annular Solar Eclipse

  • NASA’s Official Guide to Solar Eclipses
  • The International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta Official Website
  • The Versant Power Astronomy Center at the University of Maine
  • Safety Guidelines for Solar Eclipse Viewing by the American Astronomical Society
  • Information on Solar Eclipses by the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Live Stream Coverage of Solar Eclipses
  • Weather Forecasting for Astronomical Events
  • The Cancun Planetarium’s Official Website
  • Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert Eclipse Experience for the Visually Impaired
  • Traffic and Crowd Management Plans for Oregon’s Klamath County
  • Brazil’s Pedra da Boca State Park Visitor Information
  • Upcoming Solar Eclipses: Dates and Paths

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