On Sunday in the United States, the eclipse begins around 5:30 p.m. PDT. For the next two hours, a moon-shaped portion of the sun will go into hiding. Greatest coverage occurs around 6:30 p.m. PDT.
By Roy Denish
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has set up an interactive Google map to show the times of the rare solar eclipse on Sunday, May 20. The eclipse will be visible in California and in other parts of the Southwest.
“On Sunday the moon will pass in front of the sun, transforming sunbeams across the pacific side of earth into fat crescents and thin rings of light,” NASA reported.
Although during the day sunlight will not seem much different than usual as some of the sun is always exposed during the eclipse, the event will reveal itself in the shadows. Changes can be seen on the ground beneath leafy trees for crescent-shaped sunbeams and rings of light.
Near the center-line of the eclipse, observers will experience something special known as ” the ring of fire.” As the moon crosses the sun dead-center, a circular strip of sunlight will completely surround it. Visually, it will appear as the sun has a big black hole in the middle.
This occurs only about 200 miles wide, but it stretches almost halfway around the world passing many population centers en route: Tokyo, Japan; Medford, Oregon; Chico, California; Reno, Nevada; Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Lubbock, Texas. In those locations the ring of fire phenomenon will be visible for as much as 4 and a half minutes. This phenomenon is known as “the path of annularity.”
“The ring of sunlight during annularity is blindingly bright,” cautions NASA’s leading eclipse expert Fred Espenak of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Even though most of the sun’s disk will be covered, you still need to use a solar filter or some type of projection technique. A #14 welder’s glass is a good choice. There are also many commercially-available solar filters.”
Warning: Regular glasses will not protect the eyes.