By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer

BOSTON (CBS) — Get ready. On Thursday, June 10, we are in for an astronomical treat at sunrise. A “ring of fire” solar eclipse!

Sound terrifying? Nothing to worry about here, but instead a somewhat rare and fantastic solar show.

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Backing up a bit. . . no doubt you have all heard of or seen a “total solar eclipse” at one point in your lifetime. This is when the New Moon passes between the Earth and Sun, completely blocking the sun from our view. The entire landscape goes from day to night in minutes, followed by a lot of “ooohhs” and “ahhhhs.”

This event is NOT a total solar eclipse, but instead something called an “annular eclipse.” This occurs when the Moon is in its first lunar phase and farther away from Earth in its orbit. Being farther away, the Moon appears smaller and therefore cannot block out the entire solar disk. Instead, the Moon will cover the majority of the inner region of the sun, leaving just a sliver of light around the edges. . . hence the term “ring of fire” or “ring of light.”

Solar eclipses are much more difficult to see than lunar eclipses, to see the full show you have to be within a fairly small path on the Earth’s surface AND you have to wear special glasses to avoid harming your eyes.

In order to see the complete “ring of fire” eclipse this time you would have to travel into the path which will lie from parts of Canada through Greenland and into northern Europe and Asia. If you happen to be in the path, you could see the ring of fire stage for nearly four whole minutes before the Sun/Moon alignment changes enough to lead to a partial eclipse.

The eclipse, in total, will last about 100 minutes traveling from Ontario, across the North Pole and ending in Siberia.

Not up for a trip to Greenland or Siberia? I’ve got good news! You can sit right in your backyard and see about a 73% “partial eclipse.”

(WBZ-TV graphic)

For exact times in your backyard I would suggest visiting the timeanddate website: Map of Annular Solar Eclipse on June 10, 2021. Here you can literally click on the map of your town and get a second by second rundown.

For instance in Boston, the partial eclipse will actually begin before sunrise.

Sunrise occurs at 5:07:08 a.m. (under partial eclipse already)

The maximum amount of sun covered (72.91%) will occur at 5:33:21 a.m.

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The partial eclipse ends at 6:32:39 a.m.

Essentially, the sun will rise with a portion of its upper right disk covered by the Moon. The Moon will appear to slide from right to left across the face of the Sun, leaving only about 25% of the bottom section at maximum eclipse, then it will move off the left face of the sun before ending.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

I should mention, this isn’t the last solar eclipse this year!

On December 4, 2021 parts of our planet will see a total solar eclipse! Only bit of bad news, you would have to travel to Antarctica to see it. We don’t even get a partial view this time.

Next annular solar eclipse in North America: October 14, 2023

Next total solar eclipse in North America: April 8, 2024 (100% eclipse path travels right through northern New England!)

Once again, if you plan on viewing the solar eclipse, please do not do so with the naked eye. You can purchase special solar eclipse viewing glasses online (fairly cheaply). Or, you can watch on one of several live streams online.


Obviously none of this really matters if we are cloudy on Thursday morning.  At this point I feel fairly optimistic that MOST of us will be able to catch some, if not all, of the eclipse relatively cloud-free.

A front is swinging through Wednesday night with a few showers and storms.  Any showers or storms will be long gone by Thursday morning and most models indicate just a little bit of leftover moisture at mid and low levels.  So, I don’t think we can call for a totally 100% clear sky early Thursday, but instead more of a partly cloudy forecast. . . perhaps 30-40% clouds.

So for any one area, I think chances are good to view the eclipse. . . however, there will likely be a few spots (perhaps near the coast or over Southeast Mass.) where enough clouds are present to spoil the show.  We will continue to update this forecast as we get closer to the event!

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Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ