If you haven’t heard already there is an awesome solar eclipse happening on May 20th that will be visible from China, Japan and throughout most of western and central North America. This is an annular eclipse – where the Moon’s disk is smaller than the sun’s apparent disk in the sky so a ring of sunlight can be seen around the moon. A very cool event indeed! If you want to see the full eclipse then you will need to be a long a 300 mile wide corridor that runs across the U.S. southwest. Picturesque places like Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks will have front row seats to this spectacular ring of fire eclipse.
UPDATE: Scroll down to see LIVE video of the solar eclipse as it happens starting from 6:30 pm Eastern Time May 20th (Sunday)
Most of the rest of the continent however will get to see some of the show in the form of a partial eclipse. How much of a bite you see taken out of the sun depends on where you are located. The farther away on either side of the path of annularity you are, the smaller the portion of the sun that will appear covered.
Want to know where and when the eclipse is visible from your neck of the woods? Check out this super interactive Google-based map. All you have to do is drag your mouse to your location and click on your locale on the map. A pop up window will appear with your personalized eclipse viewing info.
Viewing timetable for U.S. Cities via Sky & Telescope.
Full Annular Eclipse Visibility Table
City Annular eclipse begins Annular eclipse ends Duration Sun’s altitude
Medford, OR 6:24:33 6:27:19 2m 46s 21°
Eureka, CA 6:25:50 6:29:50 3m 59s 21°
Redding, CA 6:26:21 6:30:56 4m 35s 20°
Reno, NV 6:28:32 6:32:58 4m 26s 17°
Grand Canyon, AZ 6:34:01 6:37:26 3m 17s 10°
St. George, UT 7:32:17 7:36:30 4m 13s 11°
Albuquerque, NM 7:33:39 7:38:05 4m 26s 5°
Lubbock, TX 8:33:55 8:38:08 4m 13s 1°
For skywatchers in Canada the consolation prize will be a beautiful partial eclipse visible from the west coast in Vancouver/Victoria – where up to 75% of the sun will appear covered at mid-eclipse, through to the east where in Montreal where only 3% of the sun will be covered just as the sun sets. Those in the Atlantic provinces will be out of luck for this eclipse as the Sun will have set by the time it gets underway. They get their break next year on Nov.3, 2013 while other Canadians will see the next eclipse on Oct.23, 2014.
Here is my May 20, 2012 Timetable for Canada:
More detailed Viewing Timetable for Canada & Asia via Sky & Telescope
NOTE: Remember to NEVER look at the sun directly (even during an eclipse) without eye protection in the form of approved solar filters or a #14 arc welder’s glass filter. As an alternative you can use pinhole projection by poking a hole in a piece of cardboard and projecting the sun’s image on a wall.
Also there will be astronomy clubs across Canada setting up telescopes outfitted with safe solar filters to watch the eclipse. Visit the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s website to see if there are any events near you.
Here are a LIVE video feed of the eclipse as it happens….
Here is a nice feed from Okinawa, Japan….
Another LIVE video from Japan, this time from Toyoma and its a more magnified view…
The feed is from from Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, N.M – starts at 9 pm Eastern Time.
This one is from University of Colorado’s observatory in Boulder,Colorado
Here is another LIVE feed from Slooh.com with scopes in Japan and USA (starts 6:30 pm Eastern Time)
Check out this great background video from NASA of the May 20th solar eclipse:
Here is a short TV interview I did the day before the eclipse for CTV National News
If you have cloudy conditions or just are not in the right place at the right time to soak in the eclipse then you can still watch it online! Slooh Space Camera will broadcast a free, real-time feed of the annular solar eclipse live from telescope feeds in Japan, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
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