Solar Eclipse on May 20, 2012 Visibility in US: Where to Watch?
On May 20 to 21, 2012, the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere will be given a chance to watch an annular solar eclipse known as “Ring of Fire” beginning in eastern Asia in the morning of May 21, 2012, crossing the North Pacific Ocean, and ending in the Western United States in the sunset of May 20, 2012.
A partial solar eclipse will be visible from a much larger region covering East Asia, North Pacific, and Greenland.
“For the May 20 solar eclipse, the moon will be at the furthest distance from Earth that it ever achieves — meaning that it will block the smallest possible portion of the sun, and leave the largest possible bright ring around the outside,” NASA said on its website.
In the United States, the East Coast will miss out on the solar eclipse entirely since the sun will have set before it begins on May 20, 2012.
However, in the West Coast part, the path of the annular solar eclipse will cross parts of eight western states traversing a 200 mile wide arc from Oregon to Albuquerque which includes southwest Oregon, Northern California, central Nevada, southern Utah, northern Arizona and New Mexico. These are the states which will have a complete view of the rare annular solar eclipse. Outside of this, parts of the West, Midwest and South will just be treated to a partial solar eclipse on May 20, 2012.
For a complete list of US states which will have a view on the upcoming solar eclipse, please see this PDF file provided by NASA. All times are expressed in Universal Time (UT). For conversion in your local times, head over to WorldTimeServer.com.
SPACE.com estimates that an estimated 6.6 million Americans live within the path of annularity.
For other locations, a useful iphone app called Annular Solar Eclipse 2012 which you can download in iTunes for free lets you know if you’ll be able to see the solar eclipse. You can also view an animation of what you’ll be able to see, and at what time.
Whereas lunar eclipses are safe to watch with the naked eye, solar eclipses are not.
Before Viewing the Solar Eclipse, Be Sure to…
- Check the weather in your area. Make sure that the sky is clear.
- Use solar eclipse glasses, dark welder’s goggles or an astronomer’s filter made for sun viewing.
- Use solar filters for photographers taking their chance to take a picture of this rare event.
If you don’t have the necessary filters, try projecting an image of the solar eclipse at the ground. Point the binoculars or telescopes at the sun — without looking through the lenses — and aim the other end onto a piece of paper or cardboard.
Where to Watch the Solar Eclipse in the US?
The U.S. National Park Service has also invited skywatchers to view the solar eclipse from a national park. Nine western national parks will offer solar observing as a ranger-led program or host a solar party with the help of local amateur astronomy clubs:
- Arches National Park – Learn to make your own solar eclipse pinhole viewer at the Moab Farmer’s Market on Saturday, May 19. And, join a ranger from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, to view the eclipse with solar viewers.
- Bandelier National Monument – Bandelier National Monument, located in northern New Mexico, will offer an amazing opportunity to witness the solar eclipse. The schedule of activities (reservation required) includes a Junior Ranger program, eclipse event, and stargazing with a constellation tour.
- Bryce Canyon National Park – The annular solar eclipse will be viewed on May 20, 2012, as the grand finale to Bryce Canyon National Park’s twelfth annual Astronomy Festival.
- Canyonlands National Park – Learn to make your own solar eclipse pinhole viewer at the Moab Farmer’s Market on Saturday, May 19. And, join a ranger from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, to view the eclipse with solar viewers.
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area – View the annular solar eclipse with expert astronomers and solar telescopes and experience special guest speakers, daytime solar scopes to view the sun, evening stargazing with large telescopes, and fun-filled kid and family activities.
- Grand Canyon National Park – At Grand Canyon the moon will pass fully in front of the Sun, leaving only a ring of sun visible around it. On the South Rim, astronomers sponsored by the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association will share their solar telescopes with the public both during the eclipse and after dark for a one-night Star Party.
- Great Basin National Park – Great Basin National Park will be in the bull’s-eye for the annual solar eclipse. From the park you will experience nearly three minutes of the solar eclipse. The park will have a special program at the Great Basin Visitor Center in Baker, Nevada. Join park rangers for this exciting event. Special safe solar viewing glasses will be available for purchase in their bookstores.
- Natural Bridges National Monument – Learn to make your own solar eclipse pinhole viewer at the Moab Farmer’s Market on Saturday, May 19. And, join a ranger from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, to view the eclipse with solar viewers.
- Petrolglyph National Monument – Petroglyph and the Albuquerque area lie in the center of the path of annularity. Special events (reservations required) at the park will mark this event as the moon dramatically crosses setting sun. Continue the tradition of ancient peoples looking to the sky for inspiration and understanding of the natural world around them.
Moreover, the University of Colorado, at Boulder is opening its Folsom Stadium for a public viewing of the solar eclipse.
Where to Watch a Live Online Feed of the Solar Eclipse?
For those who are located in the East Coast and in other areas around the world who wants to watch the solar eclipse online, tune in to Panasonic’s live video stream from Mt. Fuji. It’s directly in the path, and you won’t burn your retina by watching online.
The Slooh Space Camera is also broadcasting the event live, using telescope feeds from Japan, California, Arizona and New Mexico. Slooh’s live online feed begins at 5:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.
Furthermore, for those in Asia, the Hong Kong Observatory and Hong Kong Space Museum are providing a joint live online feed of the solar eclipse, letting the world see the eclipse from the vantage point of the huge city in southern China. Webcast will start at 5:41 am HK Time on Monday, May 21, 2012.