Rare 'ring of fire' solar eclipse on the longest day of the year

A shimmering ring of light flashed into view on Sunday in parts of the eastern hemisphere as the moon drifted across the face of the sun in a rare eclipse on the longest day of the year.

The path of the eclipse spanned East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Most locations saw only a partial eclipse, with just a handful witnessing the true "ring of fire".

Unlike in a total eclipse, the moon in an annular, or ring-like, eclipse is unable to completely cover the sun, leaving a thin halo of light at its maximum phase.

Such an eclipse happens when the moon is farther away in its elliptical orbit around the Earth, appearing smaller as a result.

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Pictures of the week: June 21 - June 27
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Pictures of the week: June 21 - June 27
Liverpool fan Dillon Parry waves a flag outside Anfield in Liverpool. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man clears rubbish left by beachgoers in Brighton as thunderstorms and torrential rain are forecast to sweep across the UK, bringing an end to a week of blazing sunshine and scorching temperatures.
A man jumps into a disused dock in East London as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Sunbathers at Richmond Bridge, London, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
A man wearing a face mask seen with his children at the beach on the hottest day of the year. People head to the beach at the popular seaside resort of Skegness as England records it's hottest day of the year with temperatures at 30 degrees Celsius. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Protesters singing songs during the demonstration. Protesters from the �Africans in the Diaspora� gather outside Christie's to demand the return of African Artifacts. Europe's museums are fighting to keep Africa's artifacts as pressure mounts from campaigners. (Photo by Thabo Jaiyesimi / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People play in the River Cam in Grantchester near Cambridge as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
People in Clapham Common, south London as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Crowds gather on the beach in Bournemouth as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
RICKMANSWORTH, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Amateur Annabell Fuller hits her second shot on the 1st hole during The Rose Ladies Series at Moor Park Golf Club on June 25, 2020 in Rickmansworth, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Andy Meldrum, owner of the Glencoe Mountain Resort, skis on some of the remaining snow patches on the slopes of Meall a'Bhuiridh in Glencoe as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Cows use the River Thames to cool off in Bourne End, Bucks, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Kyle Edmund (R) and James Ward both leave the ball for each other during their doubles match against Joe Salisbury and Jonny O'Mara on day 3 of Schroders Battle of the Brits at the National Tennis Centre on June 25, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Battle Of The Brits)
A pair of women wearing face masks turn onto Old Quebec Street from Oxford Street in London, England, on June 23, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today that the next stage of lockdown easing in England would proceed on schedule, with pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries, libraries, theme parks and zoos allowed to reopen from July 4. The two-metre social distancing rule is also to be halved from the same date, with people encouraged to take additional mitigation actions, such as wearing face coverings, when close together. The change, to what is being dubbed 'one-metre plus', is seen as key to the survival of the hospitality sector. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A homeless man sleeps on Cranbourn Street in London, England, on June 23, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today that the next stage of lockdown easing in England would proceed on schedule, with pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries, libraries, theme parks and zoos allowed to reopen from July 4. The two-metre social distancing rule is also to be halved from the same date, with people encouraged to take additional mitigation actions, such as wearing face coverings, when close together. The change, to what is being dubbed 'one-metre plus', is seen as key to the survival of the hospitality sector. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The RAF Voyager used by the Prime Minister and the royal family taxies along the runway at Cambridge airport where it has been repainted in the colours of the Union flag at a cost of almost £1 million. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
PERMISSION GIVEN A couple relax outside their beach hut on the beach in Bournemouth, Dorset, as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
View of a field of poppies in the summer sunshine. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People sit in prayer in the nave of Worcester Cathedral in Worcester, Worcestershire, as it opens for the first time since the UK entered lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Equestrian statue of the Duke of Cambridge in Whitehall is being cleaned after it was graffitied with a slogan BLM. Clean up of historical statues after fourth consecutive week of Black Lives Matter protests in London. (Photo by Thabo Jaiyesimi / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Police officers congregate outside a cordoned off block of flats where the suspect of a multiple stabbing incident lived in Reading, west of London, on June 23, 2020. - British counter-terrorism police have been given until June 27 to question a suspect widely identified as Libyan Khairi Saadallah in an attack which saw three people stabbed to death in a park, officers said. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
People visit the beach in Boscombe, as Britain is braced for a June heatwave as temperatures are set to climb into the mid-30s this week. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
BEVERLEY, ENGLAND - JUNE 23: Jockey Danny Tudhope riding Le Chiffre approach the finish line to win the William Hill Lengthen #yourodds Handicap (Div I) at Beverley Racecourse on June 23, 2020 in Beverley, England. (Photo by Hannah Ali/Pool via Getty Images)
Twilight at dawn at New Brighton lighthouse during low tide on the River Mersey ahead of the chance that Britain could bask in the hottest day of the year so far this week. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Statue Robert Clive is boarded up following vandalism from previous demonstration in the City. Clive, the 1st Baron Clive better know as Clive of India, who established British rule in India stands outside the Foreign Office. Clive was first Governor of Bengal Presidency under the East India Company. Authorities boarded monuments and statues in London most due to their past linkage to slavery in anticipation of possible vandalism with far-right organisations and Black Lives Matter demonstration scheduled for this weekend. (Photo by David Mbiyu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Black lives matter protester holds a placard during the demonstration. Protests continue in London and elsewhere in the UK for the fourth consecutive week amid growing calls for reform in police forces. (Photo by Thabo Jaiyesimi / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People camp under a bivouac during showers next to a closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the dawn of the longest day in the UK.
READING , June 21, 2020 -- A police officer stands behind a police cordon at an entrance to Forbury Gardens where stabbings took place in Reading, Britain, on June 21, 2020. Britain's counter-terrorism police said Sunday that the stabbing incident taking place in southern England's town of Reading on Saturday night "has now been declared a terrorist incident."(Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: Liverpool fan Emily Farley poses outside her home which is decorated in club flags, banners and paraphernalia before the Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Goodison Park on June 21, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
BLM demonstrators march through Oxford Street during the demonstration. Black Lives Matter protests continue in The UK since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officer in Minneapolis. (Photo by David Mbiyu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
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Hundreds of skywatchers gathered in an open space in Chiayi in southern Taiwan, one of the locations in Asia where the annular eclipse was visible.

"I'm more than 50 years old, so it's great that I could see this," said retiree Zhuang Yuhui, 56, who travelled to Chiayi from nearby Taichung city.

"I'm beyond excited."

In Taipei, groups of people gathered to view the eclipse through tinted glasses and their phones as the sky turned eerily darker.

"It's an astronomical miracle," said Elisa Chen, 29.

Solar eclipses on the summer solstice are rare. The last one was in June 2001.

But a "ring of fire" eclipse that falls exactly in midsummer - whether in the northern or southern hemisphere - is even more uncommon.

There have been none in at least 100 years, according to Reuters calculations based on NASA data.

The next one is in 2039, and then in 2392.

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