Attention all night owls and Antarctic penguins: A annular solar eclipse will be turning the sun into a glowing ring of fire, the full extent of which will only be visible from a remote spot of Antarctica. Viewers in the U.S. can catch part of the action with this live show from the Slooh Space Camera, beginning at 11 p.m PT/2 a.m ET.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, casting its shadow on our planet’s surface. For tonight’s eclipse, the first solar eclipse of the year, the moon will be slightly closer to the Earth than normal, making its shadow a bit smaller and thus unable to completely cover the face of the sun. Such so-called annular solar eclipses only block out the central portion of the sun, leaving a beautiful ring of light around it.
But the moment of annularity will only be visible from a tiny slice of Antarctica entirely uninhabited by humans. Even the scientists living at the South Pole will miss the event because the sun is currently below the horizon for them during the long dark Antarctic winter. But hundreds of miles north from there, the sun will manage to just peek over the horizon and turn into a glowing ring during the eclipse. The only beings likely to be around are Antarctic penguins, leading some to dub this the “Penguin Eclipse.”
Parts of the celestial event will be visible from the southern Indian ocean and Australia. Slooh will have its Australian telescope trained on the sun to bring this heavenly show to the internet, along with expert commentary explaining the event. You can see the full path of the moon’s shadow in the graphic below.