‘Ring of fire’ eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy

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'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
Viewers use special glasses to watch from San Antonio, as the moon moves in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse, or ring of fire, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay

First came the darkening skies, then the crescent-shaped shadows on the ground, and finally an eruption of cheers by crowds that gathered Saturday along the narrow path of a rare “ring of fire” eclipse of the sun.

It was a spectacular show for millions of people across the Americas as the moon moved into place and the ring formed.

There were hoots, hollers and yelps for those with an unfettered view in Albuquerque, where the celestial event coincided with an international balloon fiesta that typically draws tens of thousands of spectators and hundreds of hot air balloon pilots from around the world.

They got a double treat, with balloons lifting off during a mass ascension shortly after dawn and then the eclipse just hours later. Some pilots used their propane burners to shoot flames upward in unison as the spectacle unfolded.

“It’s very exciting to be here and have the convergence of our love of flying with something very natural like an eclipse,” said Allan Hahn of Aurora, Colorado, whose balloon named Heaven Bound Too was one of 72 selected for a special “glow” performance as skies darkened.

Unlike a total solar eclipse, the moon doesn’t completely cover the sun during a ring of fire eclipse. When the moon lines up between Earth and the sun, it leaves a bright, blazing border.

'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
The moon passes between earth and the sun during a rare “ring of fire” eclipse of the sun Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Saturday’s path: Oregon, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Texas in the U.S., with a sliver of California, Arizona and Colorado. Next: Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Brazil. Much of the rest of the Western Hemisphere gets a partial eclipse.

Viewing all depends on clear skies—part of the U.S. path could see clouds. NASA and other groups livestreamed it.

In Mexico, hundreds of people filed into the planetarium in the Caribbean resort city of Cancun to watch the eclipse. Some people peered through box projectors, while others looked through telescopes and special glasses.

Excited children whistled, as some adults raised their arms towards the sky as if to welcome the eclipse.

“It is the third one that I have seen, but I come because of the energy it gives you. It is something that nature brings us and that we must watch,” said Pilar Cáceres, 77, a retired elementary school teacher who watched the eclipse through a piece of cardboard that reflected the shadow on the ground.

'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
The annular solar eclipse appears from behind clouds above Skinner Butte in Eugene, Ore. Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via AP

Cáceres wondered how the Maya civilization would observe the celestial event, because they were fearful of the phenomenon despite being great astronomers. “We were told now that some Maya people thought that eclipses were a curse because they burned their eyes and made them blind,” she said.

The Maya—who called eclipses “broken sun”—may have used dark volcanic glass to protect their eyes, said archeologist Arturo Montero of Tepeyac University in Mexico City.

In the U.S., the event brought eclipse watchers to remote corners of the country to try to get the best view possible. At Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah, enthusiasts hit the trails before sunrise to stake out their preferred spots among the red rock hoodoos.

With the ring of fire in full form, cheers echoed through the canyons of the park.

'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
A festival attendee looks up at the annular solar eclipse during Austin City Limits weekend two, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: Mikala Compton/Austin American-Statesman via AP

“I just think it’s one of those things that unites us all,” said John Edwards, a cancer drug developer who traveled alone across the country to try to watch the eclipse from Bryce Canyon.

Kirby James and Caroline McGuire from Toronto didn’t realize they would be in a prime spot to watch the eclipse when they planned their trip to southern Utah. Their luck led to what McGuire called an “epic, epic” at the national park.

“Nothing that you can read could prepare you for how it feels,” said Kirby James, 63, a co-founder of a software company. “It’s the moment, especially when the ring of fire came on, you realized you were having a lifetime experience.”

For the small towns and cities along the path, there was a mix of excitement, worries about the weather and concerns they’d be overwhelmed by visitors flocking to see the annular solar eclipse.

'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
Samia Harboe, her son Logan and her friend’s son wear eclipse glasses during totality of the annular solar eclipse in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Her family came with glasses they’d made for the 2017 total eclipse and said they were excited to see another one. Credit: AP Photo/Claire Rush

In Eugene, Oregon, oohs and ahs combined with groans of disappointment as the eclipse was intermittently visible, the sun’s light poking through the cloud cover from behind the moon only at times.

Koren Marsh and her parents drove five hours from Seattle to be within the path of the eclipse. Making the trip to see the ring of fire was part of the celebrations for her 16th birthday, and she still appreciated getting glimpses between the clouds.

“It was worth it to me because I like science,” she said.

Viewers on the East Coast saw much less of the event, if anything. Much of the northeastern part of the region was socked in by clouds and rain.

In southern Colombia, the Tatacoa desert played host to astronomers helping a group of visually impaired people experience the eclipse through raised maps and temperature changes as the moon blots out the sun.

'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
Ryan Leecock, from Dallas, looks at the eclipse through a pair of eclipse glasses on the second day of the second weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: Sara Diggins/Austin American-Statesman via AP

The dance between the sun and moon made for a perfect golden ring while the sky went dark over the desert.

Colombia Science Minister Yesenia Olaya said moments like this should inspire people to promote science among children, so they see it as “a life project.”

Juan Pablo Esguerra, 13, had been waiting months to make the trip to the desert with his father to witness the eclipse.

“I like the astronomy because it’s a spectacular experience,” he said. “This is the best that I’ve seen in my life.”

Brazil’s Pedra da Boca state park, known for its rocky outcrops for climbing and rappelling, also was expecting crowds.

The entire eclipse—from the moment the moon starts to obscure the sun until it’s back to normal—is 2 1/2 to three hours at any given spot. The ring of fire portion lasts from three to five minutes, depending on location.

  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Crystal Marsh shows she took on her phone of the ring of fire eclipse in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Totality of the annular eclipse was at times visible with the naked eye because of the cloud cover. Marsh drove five miles from Seattle with her family in order to be in the eclipse path. Credit: AP Photo/Claire Rush
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Houston Astros outfielder Corey Julks uses protective glasses to look at the solar eclipse during baseball practice in Houston, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. The Astros are scheduled to play the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of MLB’s American League Championship Series on Sunday. Credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Buck Lovett looks at the annular solar eclipse during Austin City Limits weekend two, day two on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: Mikala Compton/Austin American-Statesman via AP
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    This map provided by NASA shows where the Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 annular solar eclipse will cross North, Central, and South America. As the moon lines up precisely between Earth and the sun, it will blot out all but the sun’s outer rim. A bright, blazing border will appear around the moon for as much as five minutes along a narrow path stretching from Oregon to Brazil. Proper eye protection is needed throughout the eclipse, from the initial partial phase to the ring of fire to the final partial phase. Credit: NASA via AP
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    A spectator views a solar eclipse with his cell phone during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Florida State and Syracuse, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. Credit: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    People watch the sun rise over Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, before a rare “ring of fire” eclipse of the sun Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Tens of thousands of spectators view the ‘ring of fire’ while at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. As part of a special “glow” performance, hot air balloon pilots also used their propane burners to shoot up flames as the solar eclipse reached its peak. Credit: AP Photo/Katie Oyan
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    An annular eclipse will be viewable along a narrow swath of the Americas Saturday. Credit: AP Digital Embed
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Viewers use special glasses to watch as the moon moves in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse, or ring of fire, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, from San Antonio. Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Hot air balloon pilot Allan Hahn of Aurora, Colo., right, tries on his viewing glasses before inflating his balloon as part of a special balloon glow during the solar eclipse at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Tens of thousands of people gathered at the fiesta to view the eclipse after watching hundreds of hot air balloons lift off hours early during a mass ascension. Credit: AP Photo/Katie Oyan
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Este mapa, proporcionado por la NASA, muestra la ruta que seguirá el eclipse anular solar del sábado 14 de octubre de 2023 a través de Norteamérica, Centroamérica y Sudamérica. Credit: NASA vía AP
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Crescent shaped shadows are cast on signs as the annular eclipse passes on the second day of the second weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: Sara Diggins/Austin American-Statesman via AP
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Danica Machrae watches the solar eclipse through a pair of eclipse glasses on the second day of the second weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: Sara Diggins/Austin American-Statesman via AP
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    A volunteer hands out solar eclipse viewing glasses to thousands of spectators at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. A record crowd turned out at balloon fiesta park for the eclipse, which followed a mass ascension of hundreds of colorful hot air balloons. Credit: AP Photo/Katie Oyan
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Diners along the Riverwalk and people on a river barge in San Antonio, use special glasses to keep watch as the moon moves in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse, or ring of fire, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    Viewers use special glasses to watch as the moon moves in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse, or ring of fire, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, from San Antonio. Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    People watch a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse along the Las Vegas Strip, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Las Vegas. Credit: AP Photo/John Locher
  • 'Ring of fire' eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy
    People watch the start of the eclipse over Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, during a rare “ring of fire” eclipse of the sun Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Next April, a total solar eclipse will crisscross the U.S. in the opposite direction. That one will begin in Mexico and go from Texas to New England before ending in eastern Canada.

The next ring of fire eclipse is in October next year at the southernmost tip of South America. Antarctica gets one in 2026. It will be 2039 before another ring of fire is visible in the U.S., and Alaska will be the only state in its direct path.

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‘Ring of fire’ eclipse moves across the Americas, bringing with it cheers and shouts of joy (2023, October 14)
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