annular eclipse

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A ‘Ring of Fire’ solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon that occurs when the moon’s orbit is at its apogee: the part of its orbit farthest away from the Earth. Because the moon is so far away, it seems smaller than normal to the human eye. The result is that the moon doesn't entirely block out our view of the sun, but leaves an “annulus,” or ring of sunlight glowing around it. Hence the term  “annular” eclipse rather than a “total” eclipse.

A ‘Ring of Fire’ solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon that occurs when the moon’s orbit is at its apogee: the part of its orbit farthest away from the Earth. Because the moon is so far away, it seems smaller than normal to the human eye. The result is that the moon doesn’t entirely block out our view of the sun, but leaves an “annulus,” or ring of sunlight glowing around it. Hence the term “annular” eclipse rather than a “total” eclipse.

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In Focus: The 2012 Annular Eclipse

Yesterday, the Moon passed between the Sun and Earth, casting its shadow from China to North America. This was an annular eclipse, where the Moon’s apparent diameter is slightly smaller than the Sun’s, blocking all but a ring of sunlight. Skywatchers brought out special glasses, welder’s masks, and telescopes to safely view this relatively rare event. Some were lucky enough to look down and see overlapping pinhole projections of the eclipse as the sunlight streamed through the leaves of nearby trees. Gathered here, for those who weren’t able to see it in person, is a group of images of yesterday’s annular eclipse.

See more. [Images: AP, Reuters]