At 4:55 this afternoon, the sky above looked like a scene out of the movie the Lord of the Rings, with the Ring of Fire dancing in the sky proving to be a day after Christmas spectacle.
It was the final solar eclipse of the decade. The annular eclipse, also known as the Ring of Fire, occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. But NWS Senior Forecaster Mike Middlebrooke says that the eclipse we saw today was not all that uncommon.
“Well, we’ve had some pretty close calls here. There was an annular eclipse I believe for Tinian and Saipan back around 2003 or something. Not sure of the exact year. Actually annular eclipses are fairly common, some form of solar eclipse occurs every year, anywhere from two to five. The most common kind are partial eclipses and then annular eclipses are actually more common than total eclipses,” Middlebrooke said.
Dubbed the biggest celestial event of 2019, the eclipse was a sight to behold and island residents were treated to a front-row seat.
“We are lucky we are right on the central line. That means that the moon will be centered on the sun for parts of Guam, let’s say from Orote Point along the coast of Hagatna, Tumon Bay across Oka peninsula, and Andersen Air Force base. So we get to see the best part. Rota will also see it, but they are north of the centerline so it will be lopsided from there. It’s still a ring, it’s just fatter on one side than the other,” Middlebrooke said.
He added that the annular track was fairly narrow so most of the world were only treated to a partial eclipse while Guam and the Asian region got to see the moon actually surrounded by the sun leaving a ring of the sun around the moon, hence the name “Ring of Fire.”
A partial eclipse began around three o’clock this afternoon with the annular phase following at around 4:53 and 30 seconds.
Middlebrooke says that the mid-eclipse occurred exactly at 4:56 followed by the annular phase which ended around 4:57:30 seconds. After that, the celestial event became an ordinary partial eclipse. He says the sun set while still in the partial eclipse phase.
For those who took in the annular eclipse, you may have also seen a bonus treat as Middlebrooke said the planet Venus could be seen in the Northwest sky near mid-eclipse.