May 20, 2012,
an annular solar eclipse sweeps across east Asia, over the northern
Pacific Ocean, and then into the
southwestern United States. This is
eclipse is the first of three remarkable astronomical events of
2012, followed by the transit of Venus on June 5-6, 2012, and a total
solar eclipse (TSE) on November 13, 2012. The Annular Eclipse is
commonly known as the Ring of Fire.
An annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of
the sun, but does not completely obscure it, leaving a ring or
"annulus" of sunlight flaring around the lunar disk. It is the first
annular eclipse to be seen from the United States in 18 years.
The moon can be seen directly in front of the sun first from the
southeast edge of China, then Japan, at its greatest at the
International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean just south of the
island chain stretching from Alaska, across the southwest corner of
Oregon, northern California, the middle half of Nevada, southwest
Utah, northern Arizona, northwest to southeast New Mexico, and right
at sunset, the southern part of the Texas panhandle.
For example, from Austin, Texas, you can observe the partial eclipse
from 7:34 pm until sunset at 8:21 pm. The point of greatest eclipse
occurs south of Kiska and Buldir in Alaska at 23:52:46 UT. It is
visible for 5 minutes and 46 seconds in this area. Be sure to not
look directly into the sun without proper protective glasses or sun