A unique solar eclipse, referred to as the ‘ring of fire’, will begin on May 20, 2012, in China and will move to the east, to the United States on May 21, 2012. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to observe the eclipse as it will be visible only in limited parts of the Earth.

The eclipse will block the most light from the sun, leaving a spectacular “ring of fire” shining in the sky. It will be observable in those parts of the Earth which will lie along the path of the eclipse.

This phenomenon is known as annular eclipse and occurs when the Sun and the Moon align with our planet, and the size of the Moon conceals the Sun due to the distance. As a result, the Sun shows a very bright “ring of fire” around the edge of the Moon.

The phenomenon will be observable in the major part of Asia, the Pacific, and some parts of western North America if the weather conditions are favorable for skywatching. At its peak, the eclipse will block about 94 percent of sunlight.

In other parts of the United States and Canada, it will be possible to see a partial solar eclipse without the full ring of fire. The eclipse will happen in the late afternoon or early evening of May 20 in North America and May 21 in Asia.

If you want to find out whether the ‘ring of fire’ eclipse will be observable in your area, check the below guide of “eclipse skywatching” to learn more about the visibility of the phenomenon, locations, and times:

If you are lucky to live in the areas where the eclipse will be visible and are going to watch it, please remember to take the necessary precautions.

Watching a solar eclipse with the naked eye may cause permanent damage to your eyesight. The only moments when it’s safe to look at is when the sun is totally covered by the moon, which usually takes just a couple of seconds or minutes. Therefore, it is recommended to use special glasses or filters to observe a solar eclipse.

Anna LeMind, B.A.

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