SOLAR ECLIPSE THIS WEEKEND: On Sunday, May 20th, the Moon will pass in front of the Sun, producing an annular solar eclipse visible across the Pacific side of Earth. The path of annularity, where the sun will appear to be a “ring of fire,” stretches from China and Japan to the middle of North America:
Image credits (left to right): Hans Coeckelberghs, Fred Espenak, Dennis Mammana
An animated eclipse map prepared by Larry Koehn of ShadowandSubstance.com shows the best times to look. In the United States, the eclipse begins at 5:30 pm PDT and lasts for two hours. Around 6:30 pm PDT, the afternoon sun will become a luminous ring in places such as Medford, Oregon; Chico, California; Reno, Nevada; St. George, Utah; Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Lubbock, Texas. Outside the narrow center line, the eclipse will be partial. Observers almost everywhere west of the Mississippi will see a crescent-shaped sun as the Moon passes by off-center.
Because this is not a total eclipse, some portion of the sun will always be exposed. To prevent eye damage, use eclipse glasses, a safely-filtered telescope, or a solar projector to observe the eclipse. You can make a handy solar projector by criss-crossing your fingers waffle-style. Rays of light beaming through the gaps will have the same shape as the eclipsed sun. Or look on the ground beneath leafy trees for crescent-shaped sunbeams and rings of light.
Solar eclipse resources: