If you live in the Western part of North America, chances are that you have never ever witnessed an Annular Solar Eclipse – That’s when the moon blocks out most of the sun, transforming the outer edge into a spectacular ‘ring of fire’. The last time this was visible from the United States was in 1994 – The next? Sunday, May 20th 2012!
The best places to watch this rare eclipse will be Medford Oregon, Chico California, Reno Nevada, Albuquerque New Mexico and Lubbock Texas. NASA experts believe that these lucky people will be able to experience the phenomenon for a full 4.5 minutes. The annular will also be visible over the North Pacific, in Southern Japan and Southern China on the morning of May 21st.
Other parts of the Western United States and Canada will be able to view a partial solar eclipse just not, the ‘ring of fire’. However, this is better than being on the East Coast, which will miss the entire spectacle, since the sun will have already set, before it all begins.
That’s because unlike most celestial events that take place late at night or, in the wee hours of the morning, this one, will occur in the late evening – From 5.30 to 7.30 pm, Pacific Standard Time.
If you’re east of the Mississippi River, don’t worry — the Slooh Space Camera is broadcasting the event live, using telescope feeds from Japan, California, Arizona and New Mexico. Slooh’s live feed begins at 5:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.
Just like all solar eclipses, this spectacular event can also be very dangerous. NASA’s leading eclipse expert Frank Espenak warns that the ring during annular eclipses can be extremely bright and cause permanent damage to the eye and even blindness, if looked at directly or through telescopes or binoculars not covered with the right solar filters. So be sure to get some before Sunday if you are planning to view the eclipse. Learn how to prepare for the eclipse here.
To check if your town or city will be able to witness any part of the 2012 Annular Solar Eclipse go to shadowandsubstance.com.