‘Ring of fire’ solar eclipse to dazzle Bay Area sky

Residents in the Bay Area are in for a treat on Saturday as the rare 'ring of fire' solar eclipse will take over the sky.

The type of eclipse known as an annular will briefly dim the skies over parts of the western U.S. and Central and South America.

As the moon lines up precisely between Earth and the sun, it will blot out all but the sun’s outer rim. A bright, blazing border will appear around the moon for as much as five minutes, wowing skygazers along a narrow path stretching from Oregon to Brazil.

"So when the moon is a little bit further away from the Earth in its orbit, it doesn't quite completely cover up the entire sun. And so that's when you do get that ring of fire, that annulus of sun peeking through," explained NASA lunar scientist, Noah Petro.

The eclipse will still be visible in the Bay Area, despite cloudy weather in the forecast that might obscure part of the region's view. Skygazers should head to the East Bay or South Bay to get a better view of the eclipse. Inland areas with little cloud coverage will have the best local viewing opportunities. 

The eclipse begins around 8:05 a.m. Saturday, reaches peak eclipse around 9:19 a.m., and finishes around 10:42 a.m.

"I mean, it's still going to be spectacular. About 80 to 85% of the sun will be covered for you in the Bay Area. And so you'll still notice that it's getting dark out and something funny is happening, and the moon will cover a good portion of the sun. It will be this partial eclipse that you'll be treated to. So it's still a spectacular sight and one worth celebrating," said Petro.

The eclipse will begin around 8 a.m. and culminate in the ring of fire a little over an hour later.

The next total eclipse is expected to happen in April. The next annular eclipse for the Western U.S. is in 2046.

Doctors warned people against starring at the eclipse as that can cause eye damage, even blindness. Doctors stressed that viewers should find safe, certified solar eclipse glasses because sunglasses aren't enough to prevent damage. Proper protection is needed throughout the eclipse, from the initial partial phase to the ring of fire to the final partial phase.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.