Summer solstice is one of the biggest events of the celestial calendar, and in 2020 it comes with an extra spectacle. As Space.com reports, the morning after the longest day of the year will bring an annular solar eclipse in some parts of the world.
What is an annular solar eclipse?
An annular eclipse, also known as a "ring of fire," is a type of solar eclipse. It occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, and crosses paths with the sun without completely blocking it out, creating a thin ring of sunlight around its edges. For this to happen, the moon needs to be relatively far from Earth, making it look small in the sky.
The next annular solar eclipse is set for June 21, 2020—just six days after the moon reaches apogee, or the farthest point from Earth in its orbit. When the moon is closer to our planet, it appears bigger than the sun, and a total solar eclipse in which the sun is fully covered is possible.
When and where is the annular eclipse?
The upcoming annular solar eclipse comes just hours after summer solstice on June 20. The precise moment of the solstice, when the sun reaches its greatest height in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere, happens at 5:44 p.m. on North America's east coast. The entire hemisphere will enjoy at least 12 hours of sunlight that Saturday.
The long days will continue for several weeks following solstice, but in some parts of the world, the summer sun will be briefly interrupted by the moon. The annular eclipse begins in northern India at 9:15 a.m. on June 21 and lasts until 3:04 p.m. local time. The eclipse will reach maximum coverage at 12:10 p.m. The event will also be visible in other parts of Asia, Africa, and the Indian and Pacific oceans, as well as in some parts of Europe and Australia.
Sky-gazers in North America will miss this occasion, sadly, but they shouldn't be too discouraged—a partial eclipse is set to appear above the United States in June 2021.