Americans may be able to catch a rare solar sighting this weekend.
A “ring of fire” eclipse is expected to occur on Saturday in the U.S. as well as in Central and South America, as National Geographic editor and space expert Allie Yang told Fox News Digital in an email.
The annular solar eclipse — a ring of fire — will go through Western states including Oregon, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas and some parts of California, Idaho, Colorado and Arizona.
Everyone in the contiguous U.S. will get a partial eclipse without the full “ring of fire” effect, according to Yang.
This eclipse occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun and appears slightly smaller, creating a “sliver of sun in the shape of a ring” for those who are in the right place at the right time, the expert said.
Although annular eclipses like this one aren’t actually that rare, Yang said it is uncommon for the eclipse path to cross the U.S.
The last “ring of fire” eclipse was seen in the U.S. in 2012.
“Even a sliver of sun, as we’ll see in this year’s eclipse, will scorch your eyes … Irreversible damage can happen in seconds.”
After this weekend, the phenomenon won’t be visible again until 2039.
Eye protection is critical for viewing eclipses, even though it may seem counterintuitive, Yang said.
“You’d think that with some of the sun blocked by the moon, it might be safer to look at — but the opposite is true,” she warned.
“Even a sliver of sun, as we’ll see in this year’s eclipse, will scorch your eyes, especially because your pupils are dilated in the relative darkness,” she said.
“Irreversible damage can happen in seconds.”
She recommended buying ISO-certified eclipse glasses or using an indirect viewing method, like pinhole projection, to safely look at the sun.
The expert recommended buying ISO-certified eclipse glasses or using an indirect viewing method, like pinhole projection, to safely look at the sun.
Eclipses aren’t all about what you can see, Yang pointed out.
They present the opportunity for a “totally multisensory experience.”
She said, “If you’re outside, you might hear nighttime animals come out. You may feel the coolness of the sun being blocked, and its warmth returning as the moon passes the sun.”
Radio hobbyists also listen to changes in radio frequencies due to the eclipse’s impact on our upper atmosphere, the ionosphere, Yang noted.
“This is where radio and GPS signals travel, so both can be affected in an eclipse,” she said.
In terms of scientific gain, Yang detailed how scientists will launch rockets and balloons before, during and after the eclipse to “measure changes to temperature, pressure and ionization.”
“Data gathered from this eclipse will help inform what research is done on April 8, 2024, when there will be a total eclipse,” she said.
More on this year’s eclipse can be found at natgeo.com.