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Annular Eclipse

May 19, 2012

The Sun and Moon will team up to produce a brilliant ring of fire across the western United States tomorrow afternoon — an annular solar eclipse.

The eclipse occurs because the Moon will pass directly between Earth and Sun, covering the Sun’s disk. But the Moon is near its farthest point from Earth, so it won’t be quite big enough to cover the entire disk. Instead, a thin ring of sunlight will encircle the Moon.

The annular eclipse will be visible across a narrow strip of Earth’s surface that begins in China, wraps across the Pacific Ocean, and ends in the western United States. From the U.S., the path of the eclipse begins at the California-Oregon border around 6:24 p.m. Pacific Time. It then sweeps to the east-southeast, ending over western Texas when the Sun and Moon set at 8:39 p.m. Central Time. The annular portion of the eclipse will last up to about five minutes.

Most of the rest of the United States will see a partial eclipse — the Moon will cover a fraction of the Sun, but it won’t be completely enfolded within the Sun’s disk.

One note of caution, though. While the Moon will hide most of the Sun’s disk, the visible ring is still bright enough to cause eye damage. To view the eclipse, look through dark welder’s glass, or build a “projector” by poking a pinhole in the side of a cardboard box and watching the sunlight projected inside the box — the progress of a solar eclipse.

We’ll have more about the eclipse tomorrow.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2012

More about the eclipse


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