'Ring of fire': A rare solar eclipse will be viewable in Africa and Asia. See these dramatic images.
Impress your fellow skywatchers with these actually interesting eclipse facts. USA TODAY
During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow onto Earth.
Why is called a 'ring of fire'?
In addition to the more familiar total and partial solar eclipses, sometimes annular eclipses occur, like what will happen on Saturday. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon covers the sun's center, leaving the sun's visible outer edge to form a “ring of fire” or "annulus" around the moon. (The word "annular" comes from the Latin word for ring.)
Because the moon is farther away from Earth, it seems smaller, so it does not block the entire view of the sun. During an annular eclipse, the moon in front of the sun looks like a dark disk on top of a larger sun-colored disk. This creates what looks like a "ring of fire" around the moon.
According to Space.com, a fitting analogy is placing a penny atop a nickel; the penny represents the moon and the nickel is the sun.
This eclipse will have a very narrow ring around the moon: "Unlike most annular solar eclipses, it’s expected to go pretty dark before the 'ring of fire' is visible, and there may be odd animal behavior and some points of light around the moon called 'Baily’s beads,'" according to Travel and Leisure magazine.
Solar eclipse glasses must be worn at all times during an annular eclipse to avoid the threat of blindness, so it can be a dangerous event if you’re not properly prepared, Travel and Leisure said. NASA warns to never look directly at the sun: It can permanently damage your eyes.
"It is only during the total phase of a total eclipse that it is completely safe the to view the sun with the naked eye," said eclipse chaser Fred Espenak, a retired NASA astrophysicist.
Get ready for the most daylight of the year: Saturday is the solstice, the official start of summer
Where Sunday's solar eclipse will be visible
According to NASA, Saturday's eclipse will be visible in portions of the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Pakistan, India, Tibet, China, and finally Taiwan.
The Earth's next total solar eclipse will be later this year, in Chile and Argentina, on Dec. 14, 2020.
The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024, and it will be visible along a path from Texas to Maine, weather permitting.
While those in the U.S. won't be able to see it, check out some cool photos of past ring of fire eclipses: