Jan. 4, 2011- The joint Japanese-American Hinode satellite captured a breathtaking event from space. The unique view created what's called an annular solar eclipse.
On Sunday afternoon (May 20), the path of an annular solar eclipse will cross parts of eight western states. SPACE.com estimates that an estimated 6.6 million Americans live within the path of annularity.
An annular solar eclipse is typically no match for a total solar eclipse. It is really more like an embellished partial eclipse, with the beautiful solar corona not becoming visible and the sky never getting really dark. Nevertheless, an annular solar eclipse still ranks as one of the most remarkable of celestial sights for avid skywatchers.
Sunday's eclipse track begins in East Asia and crossed the Pacific Ocean before reaching North America. In the United States, the U.S. National Park Service has invited skywatchers to view the solar eclipse from a national park, while the University of Colorado, at Boulder is opening its Folsom Stadium — a football stadium — to the public in what organizers are calling the world's largest solar eclipse viewing party.
Lubbock, Texas, is not on center line, but is about 25 miles to the northeast. From there, an almost perfect ring will be formed, lasting 4 minutes 14 seconds beginning at 8:33:54 p.m. CDT. But the sun will be only 1.3 degrees above the horizon when the annular eclipse begins.
Annularity will end six minutes before sunset. Farther to the southeast, the effect of atmospheric refraction must be taken into account. The thick atmosphere at the horizon refracts or bends sunlight so that we are seeing the setting sun about a half degree above where it really is.
In Snyder, Texas, for example, calculations neglecting refraction suggest that only the beginning of the 3 minute 40 second ring phase (at 8:33:43 p.m. CDT) will be visible before the sun drops below the horizon, but taking refraction into account shows that the sun will remain above the horizon for another nine minutes. At Sweetwater, Texas, the sun will resemble a horseshoe with narrow, pointed tips tilted down and to the right when it transitions to a lopsided ring at 8:34:27 p.m. CDT. Less than three minutes later, the sun will set.
Read the full story on Space.com
Video of where to see May 20, 2012 solar eclipse
How to safely photograph the "Ring of Fire:
Note: Take precautions when photographing the sun, even during an eclipse. Please check out the link above, for tips on safely photographing the eclipse.
If you would like to send in your photos of the "Ring of Fire", I will be happy to post them here on Lights in the Texas Sky.