Total solar eclipse

Rare ring-of-fire eclipse over Africa

1 September 2016 07:30–09:15 UTC

Total solar eclipse
Total solar eclipse

On 1 September a rare 'ring-of-fire' double eclipse occurred over Africa. Meteosat-10 captured the shadow as the satellite passed over the continent.

Last Updated

22 September 2022

Published on

01 September 2016

By Vesa Nietosvaara and Mark Higgins (EUMETSAT)

On the Natural Colour RGB animated gif (Figure 2) the shadow caused as the Moon blocked the Sun, can be seen appearing over central parts of Africa.

 Meteosat-10 Natural Colour RGB, 1 Sept 08:30 UTC. Red arrow indicates eclipse shadow.
Figure 1: Meteosat-10 Natural Colour RGB, 1 September 08:30 UTC. Red arrow indicates eclipse shadow.
 
 Animated gif of Meteosat-10 Natural Colour RGB imagery, 07:30–09:15 UTC
Figure 2: Meteosat-10 Natural Colour RGB imagery, 07:30–09:15 UTC

On the RGB image from 08:30 UTC the red arrow indicates where the shadow occurred (Figure 1).

The geostationary location of Meteosat is ideal for following solar eclipses affecting its footprint. Especially those lasting for a few hours, while the shade of the Moon moves across the Earth.

The double solar eclipse, sometimes known as the 'ring of fire' or annular eclipse, was similar to a complete solar eclipse. But, the ring of fire eclipse occurs when the Moon is at a point in its orbit which is further away from the Earth than usual.

The name of the eclipse comes from the overall appearance of the Sun during the phenomenon. The additional distance from the Earth causes the Moon's apparent size to be reduced, which results in the Sun not being entirely blocked. As a result the partial eclipse leaves a bright, narrow ring of the surface of the Sun visible, which looks like a ring of fire.

The eclipse was also seen from the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) on Sentinel-3 (Figure 3).

 24 hours of passes of Sentinel-3 OLCI
Figure 3: 24 hours of passes of Sentinel-3 OLCI

The image shows 24 hours of daytime passes. The eclipse can be seen as the dark patch over Central and Southern Africa, on the left-hand side of the image.

The right-hand side shows the passes over Africa from 31 August, where the usual land colours can be seen.


Additional content

Eclipse in Africa: 'Ring of Fire' eclipse wows stargazers (BBC News)