Ring of fire – annular – eclipse from 2012

[shared via Google Reader from EarthSky]

Annular solar eclipse May 20, 2012

May 20, 2012 annular solar eclipse, photographed by Ric Shanahan. Thank you, Ric!

You know you should never peer directly at the sun – even through clouds – at any time. The sun is so blindingly bright that it is only safe to view when it is completely blocked by the moon during a total solar eclipse. The eclipse happening today (May 9 for those east of the International Date Line; May 10 for those west of it) is essentially a partial eclipse in that the sun will not ever be completely covered by the moon. Instead, at mid-eclipse, a thin ring of the sun’s surface will appear in a circle around the silhouetted moon, to those standing along the eclipse path running through Australia and parts of the Pacific Ocean. Thus you will need to watch online or use a safe filter or projection technique, to view it.

The photo above shows an eclipse similar to that happening today. It is the annular solar eclipse of May 20, 2012, as captured by Ric Shanahan. Astronomy magazine also published this photo last year. We asked Ric about his use of a solar filter, for eye protection. He said:

My wife bought me a Thousand Oaks solar filter just for [the May 20, 2012 eclipse]. I had taken many shots through the filter but just as the sun and moon were coming into alignment the clouds started to roll in. One of the club members said “Look at that!” I removed the camera (a Pentax K1000) from the tripod, focused on infinity, and took this shot handheld with no filter … I enjoy your newsletter! Thanks for all the work that must go into it!

For today’s eclipse, watch online or use one of these eye safety techniques.

Want to learn more about the May 9-10, 2013 eclipse?

East of International Date Line, ring of fire eclipse happens May 9

If you’re in Australia, the eclipse happens after sunrise May 10

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