Welcome to Ring of Fire Expeditions



“The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas” a lyric from the song of the same name sung by  Gene Autrey in Heart of the Rio Grande (1942)

Ring of Fire Expeditions (ROFE) is the longest consecutive astronomical tour organization in the United States. ROFE specializes in astro-tourism since 1970 with expeditions organized and led by Paul D. Maley of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society and arranged by Future Travel in Houston, Texas USA. These include tours to observe such events as Halley’s Comet, the Leonid meteor shower, transit of Venus, spacecraft reentries, solar eclipses, grazing occultations, and occultations of stars by minor planets.

The number of eclipse tours listed that we have completed are for separate solar eclipses, not just individual programs. We are a public outreach effort of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society led by amateur astronomers and welcome all persons who are interested in astronomy and the natural sciences. You do not need to have a science background or any prior experience to join us!

Some expeditions have challenges which we do our best to work around. For example, the photo below shows a military escort for our team in Turkey in 1999.

Batman, Turkey


We do our best to witness the power and glory of a solar eclipse,

a spectacular comet,

Comet Hale-Bopp

meteor shower,

Leonid Meteor fireballs at Beijing Astronomical Observatory 1999

or erupting volcano.

Mt. Etna in eruption. Photo by P. Maley 2001

Solar eclipse expeditions of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society  in Houston, Texas began in 1970 when Paul D. Maley and J. Wesley Simpson traveled to the total solar eclipse in Valdosta, Georgia. As an initiative to expand public outreach of the Society, Paul continued organizing expeditions off and on during the 1970s whose purpose expanded in 1983 to including science goals of what is now the International Occultation Timing Association. In 1990 the name RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS was adopted. Expeditions have now included such diverse scientific phenomena as earth satellite reentries, occultations of stars by asteroids, Halley’s Comet, eclipses of the moon and more.  More than 1000 people have participated in ROFE expeditions through 2010 from around the USA and many countries.

While most RING OF FIRE total solar eclipse expeditions travel to the center line to obtain maximum totality, we sometimes have a small secondary expedition to observe near the edge of the path of totality. We also observe annular eclipses and will observe either from the edge where Baily’s Beads phenomena are wonderfully prevelant, or the center line. We strive to keep the group sizes reasonable; sometimes the overall demand exceeds our expectations. For our larger expeditions we conduct a site survey (when possible) in order to obtain the best possible observing locations, with tour group safety as our primary concern.  Future Travel (formerly Hanssen Future Travel) has handled all expeditions since 1977.


The following is list of all the solar eclipses I have attempted.  The formal Ring of Fire Expeditions number is listed in the column to the right. At the urging of colleagues I am now including partial eclipses which I do not count in my list of historical expeditions.  Many annular and total eclipses were observed from the edge where Baily’s Beads science was attempted.   The ‘eclipse type’ below is the resultant eclipse where I attempted observation. For example, if the eclipse was total and I was not able to get to the zone of totality, I attempted observation as close as I could get to the location of totality. In that case I would list it as partial.  This was especially difficult in my early years where I was not able to afford travel. The location is the name of the closest town, named village. The NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society eclipse team is represented by the Texas flag. If you see this flag at an eclipse, it is probably RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS.

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Please join us on another eclipse tour by monitoring this web site.  The following eclipses are on our event horizon.

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We just arbitrarily stopped here, but we are planning beyond 2024!

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