First solar eclipse of 2012 darkens western US

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by Science Editor

azfamily.com

Posted on May 20, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 2 at 8:54 PM

PHOENIX -- It's been almost 18 years since a solar eclipse was visible in the United States.  The afternoon skies on Sunday, May 20, 2012 will bring an annular eclipse of the sun across much of Arizona, including the metro Phoenix area.

Across Arizona, the moon will begin moving in front of the sun shortly before 5:30 p.m.  At approximately 6:35 p.m. local-time in Phoenix, more than 80 percent of the sun's surface will be blocked by the moon.  Residents of Northern Arizona will experience nearly 90 percent blockage.

During a solar eclipse, the moon passes in front of the sun blocking out mu sunlight and leaving a bright ring of light around the edges. For the May 20, 2012 eclipse, the moon's orbit will be at its furthest distance from Earth, which means the smallest amount of the sun will be blocked, and a large bright ring of light will appear around the outside of the sun.

The next solar eclipse will be the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012.

An annular eclipse is similar to a total eclipse in that the moon lines up with the sun dead-on, but in this case, the moon is at its most distant point in its earth orbit, so its disc won't completely cover the star at the center of our solar system.

As a result, a blaze of bright sunlight will continue to shine around the moon's circumference.

IMPORTANT CAUTION: Never look directly at the sun with the naked eye or using a telescope or binoculars without adequate eye protection.  Special equipment, such as a #14 welder's glass or a solar filter can be used.

 

 

Video of solar eclipse through the smoke of the Gladiator fire / Greg Horn

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