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Rare and spectacular solar eclipse visible Sunday night

May 18, 2012

A solar annular eclipse like the one that will be visible Sunday evening.

A rare and stunning type of solar eclipse will be clearly visible this Sunday night when the moon casts a shadow on the sun, resulting in a flaming ring of fire surrounding a darkened sun.

Called an “annular”, or “ring”, eclipse, it will be visible from the Mammoth and northern Eastern Sierra area beginning at about 5:15 Sunday night until 7:40 p.m., with the maximum coverage of the sun at about 6:30 p.m.

It’s the first and last time such an annular eclipse will occur in 18 years, with the last similar eclipse occurring in 1994 and the next projected for 2039.

The weather is expected to be clear, calm and warm, making for perfect viewing.

Mammoth lies on the very southern edge of the best viewing area in the state—a wide swath of land that stretches from northern California near Eureka to Redding and Sacramento and then Tahoe.

The rest of California will still get a prime view of a partial eclipse on Sunday evening, with the moon blocking out 86% of the sun's diameter in Los Angeles, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

An annular eclipse is different from a total or partial eclipse, in that only an annular eclipse comes with the spectacular “ring of fire” surrounding the sun, according to the EarthSky website.

Do no look directly at this eclipse, scientists warn. Doing so could permanently damage your eyes.
Here is a website that gives clear directions about how to make a home-made viewing box, and other tips about viewing what promises to be a rare and spectacular event.

Eclipse over Mono Lake anyone? The Minaret range? The Sierra crest? Yosemite?

How much better could it get?

I saw one of these eclipses as a child, two 18-year cycles ago in the highlands of Montana. I will never, never forget the sight of the flaming white diamonds cast off from the darkened sun on that cold, cold day, the homemade viewing box, the warm car rimmed in frost packed with four siblings and my wanna-be astronomer father.

Go on.

Get out there.

Here’s a “how to” site that will help you figure out how to view the eclipse. It’s easy and fast to make the viewing box, or other sites suggest looking through a lacy network of leaves—anything except looking directly at the sun: http://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/how.html

Or go here, for more information:
http://earthsky.org/space/for-u-s-observers-annular-or-ring-eclipse-sund...

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