The skies will put on a show on Saturday afternoon when a rare “ring of fire” eclipse of the sun happens. Called an annular solar eclipse, it will be briefly visible over parts of the western United States, Central America and South America.
Florida will only get a partial view, but there will be online resources you can use to see it better. And there are some local solar eclipse watch parties where you can safely watch as the moon covers about 60% of the sun at a certain point.
For Florida residents, the best way to see the “ring of fire” will be from a livestream.
“We will see a partial eclipse, but we won’t be able to see the ring of fire from here,” said Craig Joseph, director of the St. Petersburg College planetarium. But he said it still will be a dramatic sight.
As the moon lines up between the Earth and the sun, it will block out all but the sun’s outer ring. The bright, circular border will be visible to viewers on the path of annularity stretching from Oregon to Brazil.
It’s a precursor of sorts to a total eclipse of the sun happening on April 8, 2024, across parts of the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
In the U.S., the eclipse will begin in Oregon at 9:13 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and end in Texas at 12:03 p.m. Central Daylight Time, according to NASA.
Eclipse viewing parties
- St. Petersburg College will have telescopes with solar filters set up from noon to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday next to the West Community Library on the campus at 6700 Eighth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. They will also be passing out eclipse glasses to view the phenomenon safely, Joseph said.
- You can join a Solar Eclipse Watch Party on Saturday at Pasco-Hernando State College. The first 200 attendees will receive free eclipse glasses. There will also be solar telescope observations available and you can create your own pinhole viewer. It’s free from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the West Campus Building Quad and Conference Center (R151). 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey. Register at phsc.edu/about/events/campus/solar-eclipse-watch-party.
- Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) will have sun-safe telescopes and experts on hand from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. There will be live streams from around the country and hands-on activities in the Ritual Observatory. Eclipse glasses will be available for $5 or bring your own. Included with museum admission; $14 adults, $10 children ages 3-17, free for kids 2 and younger. 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. 813-987-6000. mosi.org.
- The Suncoast Stargazers in Bradenton will gather for the Partial Solar Eclipse at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Robinson Preserve, 10299 Ninth Ave. NW, Bradenton, with safety equipment available for viewing.
“First contact is at 11:50 a.m. and maximum eclipse is at 1:25 p.m. when the sun will be approximately 60% covered by the moon. Final contact, when the moon leaves the sun’s edge, is at 3:03 p.m.,” the Stargazers group posted on its website.
According to The Associated Press, the eclipse will carve out a swath about 130 miles wide, starting in the North Pacific and entering the U.S. over Oregon on Saturday morning. From Oregon, the eclipse will head downward across Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Texas, encompassing slivers of Idaho, California, Arizona and Colorado, before exiting into the Gulf of Mexico at Corpus Christi. It will take less than an hour to traverse the U.S.
The entire eclipse will last two and a half to three hours, with the “ring of fire” portion lasting three to five minutes, depending on location.
A partial eclipse will be visible to nearly every state in the U.S., depending on how clear the skies are, the AP reported.
If you can’t see it in the sky, you can watch a livestream provided by NASA.
The next ring of fire eclipse won’t be visible in the U.S. until 2039, and Alaska will be the only state in the path of totality. The next one won’t cross into the U.S. Lower 48 until 2046, according to the AP.