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'Ring of fire' in Australia

Scientists and sky-gazers were treated to an annular solar eclipse in northern Australia and the South Pacific Friday. The partial eclipse created a "ring of fire" with the moon between the Earth and the sun.

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At dawn on Friday scientists and spectators watched as the eclipse cast its approximately 200-kilometer-wide (120-mile-wide) shadow over northern Australia before moving east.

Gliding between the Earth and sun, the moon blocked everything but a "ring of fire" for the solar eclipse that started in northern Australia and continued on to the South Pacific.

Unlike the total eclipse seen from the northern part of the continent in November, Friday’s partial eclipse covered about 97 percent of the sun which created the display of the solar corona. The eclipse lasted between three and six minutes, depending on its location.

During an annular eclipse the moon is farther from Earth and cannot completely block out the sun, so instead of blacking out the daytime sky, an annular eclipse just dims the sunlight.

hc/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)