Hell Gate’s Devil-Horned Eclipse

If you haven’t heard by now, there will be an annular eclipse this June 10th, or Ring of Fire as witnessed by some Canadians in western Ontario and maybe by some in Siberia, Russia. The Amateur Astronomers Association has set up two sites thus far to observe this event. You can check out our website for further details: https://www.aaa.org/observing/annular-solar-eclipse-2021/.

As I mentioned in my article last month, we New Yorkers will be experiencing a Partial Solar Eclipse, meaning the Sun will only be 72% obscured by the Moon. So, as with an Annular Solar Eclipse, a solar filter will always be necessary to observe the eclipse— from beginning to end, at every stage of the event. This cannot be stressed enough, because the light from the Sun’s photosphere is so extremely overpowering that even if the Sun is covered at 94% (as most Annular Eclipses on average are) you will still be literally blinded by the light.

What an annular eclipse is— is simply a glorified partial eclipse. But if you get within the central path of this event, you’ll see the Moon “inside” the circle of the Sun, forming that Ring of Fire. Unfortunately, only sparsely populated regions are in the path, such as northwest Ontario, the Hudson Bay, the polar region (including the North Pole), Greenland, and Siberia, Russia. Check out a map of the eclipse’s path here.

This is Saros Series 147 which last visited the north polar region of Earth in 2003. A Saros is a series of eclipses separated by 18 years (plus about 10 or 11 days) and each eclipse in the series has similar characteristics to the previous one. In other words, it’s an evolution of an eclipse over time, lasting well over a twelve or thirteen hundred years. Saros 147 is a relatively new eclipse series, and our eclipse on June 10th is the second central eclipse of the series. This series began as a partial eclipse on Oct. 12, 1624, and as with all Saros series, it will end as a partial, in the year 3049 at the opposing polar region. The total duration of Saros series 147 is 1424.38 years.

So although it may be an annular solar eclipse for Santa Claus and the Polar Bears, for us New Yorkers it will be a deep partial solar eclipse, which will rise at the mid-point of the event and produce a “devil-horned eclipse” rising above the horizon. For example, from our Randells/Ward Island observing site, the event lasts from sunrise (5:25 AM EDT) until 6:31 AM, and has an excellent view of the sunrise point (58° Azimuth) of the Sun and Moon in the direction of Astoria with nothing to obscure it. From here you have nice views of New York City to enjoy, as well as Queens and Hell Gate Bridge behind you, hence the devil-horned eclipse but no Ring of Fire. There will be free Solar Eclipse glasses on hand to distribute.

A similar eclipse we might remember was the Great American Annular Solar Eclipse of 1994 that created an even deeper partial solar eclipse here in the New York metropolitan area. I observed it many miles north of Albany at a rest stop along the New York State Thruway. But for New York City, you had an 83% obscuration. That Eclipse was visible from beginning to end, unlike this 2021 eclipse being only visible at its halfway point to fourth and final contact ending the event. Below are some statistics of three recent annular eclipses that occurred over the United States.

Annular Solar Eclipse,  June 10, 2021

Duration of Annularity: 3m36.9s    Armstrong, ON, Canada

Magnitude: 0.968          Obscuration: 87.90%

Lat.: 50.2914° N  Long.: 89.14° W

Annular/Partial Eclipse  Lat.: 40.787° N Long.: 73.9196° W  New York City/Randells Island

Partial Solar Eclipse: Magnitude: 0.797  Obscuration: 72.54%

Annular Solar Eclipse,  May 20, 2012

Maximum Duration of Annularity: 4m31.6s  at Page, AZ

Magnitude: 0.967   Obscuration: 87.17%

Lat.: 36.8371° N           Long.: 111.5152° W


Annular Solar Eclipse (just inside the southern limit):  Lat.: 35.3637° N    Long.: 111.5273° W

Duration of Annularity: 0m30.5s   Sunset Volcano Park, North of Flagstaff, AZ

Magnitude: 0.934          Obscuration: 87.14%

Annular Solar Eclipse,  May 10, 1994

Maximum Duration of Annularity: 6m08.1s   Magnitude: 0.968   Obscuration: 88.89%

Lat.: 43.5704° N           Long.: 73.6523° W


Annular Solar Eclipse,  May 10, 1994:  Long.: 73.6414° W  Lat.: 43.091° N

Duration of Annularity: 5m04.7s  North of Albany, Rest stop

Magnitude: 0.955          Obscuration: 88.90%