Viewers along a sweeping path from the Pacific Northwest to eastern Brazil were wowed by a rare celestial event — an annular solar eclipse. For those in Utah, the moon partially blotted out the sun around 10:35 a.m. Mountain time.
During any solar eclipse, the moon passes directly between the sun and the earth in its orbit. Because that orbit isn’t perfectly round, its distance from the earth varies. On Saturday, that distance was too great to fully obscure the sun’s disk, as happens during a total solar eclipse, leaving a so-called “ring of fire” peeking out from behind the moon.
Unlike in a total solar eclipse, during which viewers are able to remove protective glasses and view the event with the naked eye for a few minutes, that is not possible during an annular eclipse. The sun’s rays are still too powerful to view it without protection.
Utah was last treated to a total solar eclipse in 2017 when the so-called “great American eclipse” swept across much of the United States — although there were no areas of totality in Utah that year. In May 2012 viewers in Utah were in the path of an annular eclipse.
Eclipse fanatics will get their next chance in April 2024 when a total solar eclipse again sweeps across the U.S. That one will enter the U.S. in Texas and travel northeast to Maine.