Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2023 September 10
A person is seen standing at the top of a ridge. The person
appears as a silhouette onto the central dark region of an 
annular solar eclipse. The annular solar eclipse is a bright
ring with a large dark hole in the middle.
Please see the explanation for more detailed information.

An Annular Solar Eclipse over New Mexico
Credit & Copyright: Colleen Pinski

Explanation: What is this person doing? In 2012, an annular eclipse of the Sun was visible over a narrow path that crossed the northern Pacific Ocean and several western US states. In an annular solar eclipse, the Moon is too far from the Earth to block out the entire Sun, leaving the Sun peeking out over the Moon's disk in a ring of fire. To capture this unusual solar event, an industrious photographer drove from Arizona to New Mexico to find just the right vista. After setting up and just as the eclipsed Sun was setting over a ridge about 0.5 kilometers away, a person unknowingly walked right into the shot. Although grateful for the unexpected human element, the photographer never learned the identity of the silhouetted interloper. It appears likely that the person is holding a circular device that would enable them to get their own view of the eclipse. The shot was taken at sunset on 2012 May 20 at 7:36 pm local time from a park near Albuquerque. Next month, on October 14, a different narrow swath across North and South America will be exposed to a different annular solar eclipse, if the sky is clear. Simultaneously, cloud-free observers almost anywhere on either continent will be able to see a partial solar eclipse.

Tomorrow's picture: active comet

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