As the sun rose Thursday, the moon’s dark shadow began to sweep across the region, and early risers in parts of the state caught a glimpse of what looked like a “ring of fire.”
The annular solar eclipse had arrived.
Small groups of residents gathered at Castle Island in hopes of catching a glimpse of the event, which began as the sun rose around 5:07 a.m.
Taufiq Dhanani arrived at 4:45 a.m., protective glasses in hand, and set up a camera to capture the sight.
“Especially at the end of the pandemic, it’s magical,” he said.
He passed the glasses around to those who were standing nearby.
“It’s such a great view, it would be a shame not to share,” he said. “It’s not my view, it’s everyone’s view.”
Cloud cover obstructed optimal viewing of the celestial event for the first half hour, prompting some frustration among viewers as the moon became sandwiched between the Earth and sun for the first time since 2017. The solar eclipse peaked in Boston and New England around 5:33 a.m., and lasted until around 6:33 a.m. By the end, it was visible.
“Seeing it when it escaped the clouds, I thought, ‘Whoa, this is crazy,’ ” Dhanani said.
An annular, or ring-shaped, eclipse happens when the moon is farthest from Earth. Due to its distance, the moon seems smaller and doesn’t entirely block the sun, leaving a “ring of fire” around the edge.
Eclipses are not uncommon but are rarely seen in Massachusetts, according to Boston University’s observatory manager Quinn Sykes. The next one will be visible here in 2024. Thursday’s event was a partial solar eclipse, unlike four years ago when a full one was visible.
At Castle Island Thursday morning, Kiril Selverov, 48, said he’d never before been in the right place at the right time to view such an event.
“I’ve always been in a different continent,” he said. “Or, the timing worked out, but the cloud cover didn’t.”
Selverov said his interest in eclipses came from the novel “Nightfall” by Isaac Asimov, inspiring him to make the trip to Pleasure Bay on Thursday in search of a low horizon.
Emily Pettengill, a 29-year-old Roxbury resident, said she came to see the eclipse because she is “really into astronomy and astrology.” Pettengill said she and Eduardo Rodriguez, 29, were thrilled to find out it would be visible over Boston.
“It’s one of the most amazing phenomenon ever,” she said. “It’s rare. It’s special.”
Rodriguez echoed that sentiment.
“Two celestial objects crossing paths, I feel like this is a pretty amazing thing,” he said. “It’s unlikely.”
By 6:15 a.m. the crowds dissipated as the annular eclipse reached its conclusion and sunlight burst through the clouds.
Rachele Rosi-Kessel, 51, said the feeling of community with other eclipse viewers made the experience that much more special.
“It’s wonderful to be out here with all these people,” she said.
“It’s the eclipse of the pandemic,” quipped Rosi-Kessel’s friend, 57-year-old Alta Tarala.
Rosi-Kessel said she enlisted Tarala to wake up early and watch it.
“Nature is a miracle,” she said.
Christina Prignano of the Globe staff contributed to this report.