An annular eclipse is a type of solar eclipse that occurs when the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth but does not entirely cover the Sun’s disk. This phenomenon is due to the Moon being at a point in its orbit where it appears slightly smaller than the Sun when viewed from Earth. Consequently, during the eclipse, a ring of sunlight remains visible around the Moon, giving it an annular or “ring of fire” appearance. The October 14th eclipse will be visible as an annular eclipse in the United States on a path between Oregon and Texas. It will appear as a partial throughout the rest of the continental United States.
While the October 14 eclipse doesn’t occur on a school day (unlike the total solar eclipse of April 2025!), and even though it is only a partial eclipse in my part of the Country, I still plan to prepare my students to observe this phenomenon.
One activity students can do to prepare for the eclipse is to learn how eclipses work. A simple flashlight demo with a golf ball and a tennis ball is perfect to model lunar, solar and annular eclipses.
It is very important to strongly warn students against observing a solar or annular eclipse directly! Students can observe the eclipse using ISO approved solar glasses or by creating a pinhole projector which is what we will be doing in my class this week. A pinhole projector allows students to indirectly observe the Sun changing shape by standing with your back to the Sun and projecting an image of the Sun onto a piece of paper.