“Ring of Fire” eclipse due on Sunday

May 17, 2012
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“Ring of Fire” eclipse due on Sunday

You’ll be waiting a long time until the next total solar eclipse across the United States, but several states in the west will be able to view an annular solar eclipse on Sunday May 20th. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon and sun are directly in line, but the size of the moon appears smaller, resulting in a “ring of fire” in the sky. Around 6.6 million Americans will be able to witness the annular eclipse on Sunday.

The moon will measure around 94.4% of the Sun’s diameter when viewed on Sunday, created a ring of fire effect that will appear off-center as the moon moves out of position. The effect will last for 4 minutes depending on where you’re watching from, and require protection in order to be viewed safely - you’ll need a special eclipse filter (sunglasses aren’t good enough, folks) and shouldn’t look directly at the effect.

The annular eclipse will cover several states including California, Texas, and Utah, although the severity and length of the effect will greatly different depending on where you are. The best place to view the eclipse on Sunday evening will be along the center of the line demonstrated on the above picture, where the ring of fire effect will last the longest.

[via Space]


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