On Saturday, a remarkable astronomical event will occur when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, casting a shadow across parts of the Western Hemisphere. Those along the path of the moon’s shadow will witness an annular “ring of fire” solar eclipse.
Unlike a total eclipse where the moon fully blocks the sun, the moon will appear slightly smaller than the sun during this eclipse. This will create a bright ring or halo around the moon as sunlight creeps around its edges. The evocative “ring of fire” name comes from this unusual sight.
Annular eclipses are fairly rare occurrences. Only 12 more will happen over the next decade at various locations worldwide. This weekend’s eclipse will be visible from the western United States, Central and South America, and Mexico, weather permitting.
Cultural Significance on Tribal Lands
The eclipse’s path notably crosses the Navajo Nation and other Native lands in the Southwest U.S. where celestial events carry deep cultural meaning. The Navajo people avoid eclipse viewing or exposure due to spiritual traditions.
Some tribal parks and landmarks will close during the eclipse to honor these beliefs.
For example, the iconic Monument Valley in Arizona and Utah will be off-limits to visitors this Saturday. Other areas like the Navajo Tribal Parks will be closed temporarily during the eclipse.
When and Where to See This Weekend’s Eclipse
For those outside these Native lands, the eclipse begins at 9:13 AM Pacific Time in Oregon. It will be partially visible across the Western U.S. before ending in Texas at 12:03 PM Central Time.
It will also pass over Central and South American countries like Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras, and Brazil.
If Saturday’s annular eclipse is obscured by weather, another chance comes in 2024. A total solar eclipse, where the moon fully covers the sun, will occur on April 8, 2024.
This eclipse will be visible along a path crossing the Eastern U.S. Total eclipses reveal the ethereal corona around the sun only visible during full alignments.