It’s the last solar eclipse to be visible in the Lower 48 until 2023, when a “ring of fire” eclipse will trace a swath across North America.
A smiling sunrise greeted early risers in the Mid-Atlantic, including in Seaside Heights, N.J. Offshore clouds made for an even more dramatic scene, as the peach hues of the banana-shaped sun juxtaposed a deck of shadowed gray.
Some lucky viewers even were treated to a sun pillar, or a column of light above the sun, before the solar disk became visible. Sun pillars form when hexagonally shaped ice crystals reflect upward-scattered light back down to the observer.
In the nation’s capital, concern was originally high that overcast skies would blot out the show. Instead, clouds lifted overnight, a few gaps in the overcast allowing the slender sliver of a sun to shine through.
In Rochester, N.Y., the eclipse reached 78 percent coverage, prompting people to crowd onto Charlotte Pier to take in the spectacle.
Felix Zai captured the eclipsed sun shining behind the iconic CN Tower in Toronto. The city enjoyed an 80 percent eclipse.
About 150 miles to the northwest, Brian Simpson witnessed an even deeper eclipse from Manitoulin Island, a Canadian island within the northern reaches of Lake Huron. Simpson wrote on SpaceWeather.com that he planned a vacation around this moment — and despite an unexpected veil of cloud cover, his planning paid off.
Elsewhere across the Great Lakes, photographers took advantage of the low sun angle and open spaces along the water to line up their ideal shots. John Kraus snapped his with the sickle-shaped sun peeking through suspension cables belonging to the Mackinac Bridge in northern Michigan. His gallery contains a panorama of the strange yet serene scene.
Only a lucky few in Canada got to witness full annularity; as of 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, only one photo of the full display could readily be found on Twitter, captured by a photographer in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, Canada. Iqaluit is home to just under 8,000 people.
While low clouds obscured any fiery sunrise colors, they proved thin enough to allow the hollowed-out solar disk to shine through to below.
Because a ring of the sun was still visible, observers couldn’t look directly at the eclipse, nor did the landscape turn dark. Instead, the below photo was snapped using a solar filter — in other words, the sky was still bright and night never descended.
Many astrotourists had originally planned to view the full annular phase of the eclipse, consisting of up to 3 minutes 51 seconds of a ring of fire scene, in Ontario. Annularity was only visible from remote parts of Canada, Russia and Greenland. The Canadian border remains closed to nonessential travel, however, preventing foreigners from enjoying the show.
Some die-hard eclipse chasers did witness annularity from 38,000 feet, though. The dedicated group piled into an Airbus A319-100 aircraft and took off from Minneapolis International Airport during the dead of night, rendezvousing with the eclipse several hundred miles north of Lake Superior around 4:55 a.m.
The trip, which was organized by Sky and Telescope magazine, charged passengers a minimum of $2,380 for a shared row of seats, or $4,300 for a full row.
As of 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the flight was about an hour out from returning to Minneapolis after a successful rendezvous with full annularity.
The next annular eclipse globally is on April 20, 2023. Technically it will be a hybrid eclipse — appearing as a ring of fire for some and a total solar eclipse for others. (A total eclipse occurs when the moon is close enough to Earth to briefly cover the entire sun.) Australia, Indonesia and the Maritime Continent will be primed for viewing.
An annular eclipse will visit us stateside on Oct. 10, 2023, before a total solar eclipse sweeps through the Lower 48 on April 8, 2024.
In the meantime, check out these views of Thursday’s show: