EagleHerald staff writer
MENOMINEE—For a few dawning moments in the emerging crimson skies of Thursday morning’s daybreak, an astronomically gargantuan alignment treated a handful of anticipating spectators to the visual splendors of planetary physics and the natural world.
At precisely 5:05 a.m., the first brilliance of the sun’s coronal fires flared over the Bay of Green Bay’s eastern horizon and thus began an approximate 30-minute traverse of the moon as it crossed the sun. At one point, about one-quarter of the sun turned dark, creating a curious but piercing spectacle that burned through the morning haze during the Thursday's partial eclipse.
Coined a “ring of fire” eclipse, according to Space.com, it was visible in regions of northern Canada, Greenland and the Arctic as a full solar eclipse, creating a slivered circle of fire in the sky as the moon blocked all but the sun’s corona.
For those in North America, such as the sparse few who gathered in the predawn light at the end of the Menominee North Pier Lighthouse, the brilliant display resembled more of a gigantic crescent-shaped fire that appeared to ignite a few hazy clouds.
A few members of the Menekaunee Harbor Sunrise Paddlers, whose early morning gumptions regularly brings them out with their kayaks and into the bay, the eclipse offered moments of quiet contemplation atop the calm morning waters.
Solar eclipses occur as the moon passes between the sun and the earth in just the right alignment. The relatively rare event of a “total” solar eclipse happens when the moon’s passage completely covers the sun.
A “ring of fire” (aka annular) eclipse results when the moon’s orbit swings to its farthest distance from the earth as it passes before the sun. Due to the distance, the moon appears too small to block the entire fiery hydrogen mass of earth's star, allowing the sun's corona to encircle a silhouette of the earth’s largest satellite.
However, the moon’s orbit does not always align perfectly to mask the sun. In that scenario, the result takes just a bite out of the sun, producing a partial eclipse, as viewed from the Lighthouse pier Thursday morning.
If you missed it, take a gander at the photo. Otherwise, you will need to wait until Oct. 14, just before Halloween in 2023, for the next North American eclipse, according to NASA.gov (eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEdecade/SEdecade2021.html). Or, if you are really keen on it, you could venture down to Antarctica, S. Africa, or the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean later this year on Dec. 4 to view a total solar eclipse in the Southern Hemisphere.