'Ring of fire' solar eclipse of 2020 dazzles skywatchers across Africa and Asia

The sun and moon converged in a dazzling "ring of fire" solar eclipse Sunday (June 21), stunning skywatchers across parts of Africa, Asia and more. 

During the solar spectacle, known as an annular solar eclipse, the moon covered most — but not all — of the sun. During this type of eclipse, a bright "ring of fire" of the sun remains visible around the edge of the moon. The eclipse began at 11:45 p.m. EDT Saturday, June 20 (0345 GMT Sunday) and went until 5:34 a.m. EDT (1034 GMT) this morning. 

The crown jewel of the event, the "ring of fire" section of the eclipse when the moon, sun and Earth lined up just so to create the brilliant effect (also known as maximum eclipse), occurred at around 2:40 am EDT (0640 GMT).

While not everyone around the world was able to view the event, it was visible either in its entirety or as a partial solar eclipse to potentially millions of spectators across the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Red Sea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the Gulf of Oman, Pakistan, India, China, Taiwan, the Philippine Sea (south of Guam) and northern Australia had a front-row seat for the stellar performance. Here's a look at some of the amazing views. 

Related: Solar eclipse guide 2020: When, where & how to see them

This combination of pictures created on June 21, 2020 shows the moon moving in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse as seen from (top L to R) Kurukshetra, Allahabad, Bangalore and (bottom L to R) Kolkata, New Delhi, Bangalore on June 21, 2020. ( (Image credit: Jewel Samad, Manjunath Kiran, Sanjay Kanojia, Dibyangshu Sarkar, Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images)

People observe annular solar eclipse with special goggles in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on June 21, 2020.  (Image credit: Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The moon moves in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse as seen through clouds from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2020. (Image credit: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images)

People watch an annular solar eclipse in Banda Aceh in Indonesia on June 21, 2020.  (Image credit: Riska Munawarah/AFP via Getty Images)

The eclipse, crossing two continents and 14 total countries, covered a wide path but the path of greatest visibility was actually quite narrow, according to Time and Date. For example, in Uttrakhand, India at the location of Greatest Eclipse, the path is only about 13 miles (21 kilometers) wide and the "ring of fire" lasted for just about 38 seconds. 

Unfortunately, especially with travel restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people will not be able to witness the extravagant display in person. Luckily, a number of webcasts held live, online watch parties so that people could enjoy the event remotely. 

While most eclipse seasons typically have two eclipses — one lunar and one solar — this eclipse season actually has three. This solar eclipse was the second of that trio. The first, a lunar eclipse, came on June 5, and the final of the three, another lunar eclipse, will happen late on the night of July 4-5. These lunar eclipses are what are known as penumbral lunar eclipses. These types of eclipses are very slight and not as flashy as, say, the "ring of fire." 

Amazing photos: Annular Solar Eclipse of May 20, 2012

The moon partially covers the sun during an annular solar eclipse as seen in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, early on June 21, 2020.  (Image credit: Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images)

Lunar eclipses happen when the moon moves into the way of Earth's shadow. With a penumbral lunar eclipse, only Earth's outer shadow moves in front of the moon, so it looks very similar to how it would look otherwise. 

Later this year, in the next eclipse season which will span through November and December, there will be another penumbral lunar eclipse Nov. 30 and a total solar eclipse, visible from Chile and Argentina, on Dec. 14. 

Editor's Note: If you capture a stunning photo of the solar eclipse and would like to share it with Space.com's readers, send your photos, comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com.  

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Chelsea Gohd
Senior Writer

Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined Space.com in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.