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Space Science

Rare 'Annular Solar Eclipse' Tonight 116

New submitter Trubacca writes "The Northern-Pacific "Ring of Fire" has an opportunity tonight to observe an entirely different "ring of fire": an annular solar eclipse where the moon, owing to its distance from the Earth, seems smaller than the apparent diameter of the sun. This results in the fiery ring for which the phenomenon takes its name. has a decent write-up on the path of the eclipse, times, and tips for safe-viewing."
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Rare 'Annular Solar Eclipse' Tonight

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  • Grammar police (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20, 2012 @05:36PM (#40059079)

    Its. Learn it, love it, live it and spell it CORRECTLY.

    • Thank you. In the 15 seconds it took me to log in, you beat me to the punch. Bloody grocer's apostrophes.
      • Since we're being grammar police, that is not a grocer's apostrophe. A grocer's apostrophe is an apostrophe on plural nouns ending in the letter s. The OP's mistake is an equally common phenomenon but I don't know of any pedantic name for it.

        • I think a store that has a bin full of grocers for sale should be allowed to use the grocer's apostrophe and label the bin "grocer's".
    • Its. Learn it, love it, live it and spell it CORRECTLY.

      Heh.. guilty as charged. Allow me to beg for forgiveness, it was a first-time submission newbie-error.. We tend to learn more from our mistakes than our successes, especially when it is made on the internet in front of millions of people ;-) I spent my review time fixing the capitalization, which I probably got wrong anyway.

      • English today is so mixed up that who's to say which version of English _is_ the correct one?

        • by jc42 ( 318812 )

          ... who's to say which version of English _is_ the correct one?

          To the casual observer, the answer to this question seems to be "Pretty much everyone." ;-)

          In English, "correct" generally means "whatever silly 'rules' someone has taught me". We have no official standards body for the language, after all, which you'd think would mean that there is no such thing as "standard English". But the reality is that anyone and everyone feels not just permitted, but required to make up rules about the language and criticise others for violating them.

          Historically, most of th

          • by n5vb ( 587569 )

            Historically, most of the well-known rules for English seem to have originated as Latin rules, imposed on English by people who thought that Latin was the perfect language, and any language that worked even slightly differently was wrong, wrong, wrong. But lately, we've heard from people who seem to have just made up rules, and critcised people who weren't even violating them. Thus, we have the common advice that "passive" is wrong, but it's clear that most people who criticise its use have no idea what "passive voice" even means.

            "English follows other languages into dark alleys, beats them up for their words and goes through their pockets for loose vocabulary." -- variously attributed

            Anyone have any idea how many languages English has taken words from? Spelling rules in English are mind-bogglingly complicated because they include sub-orthographies for pretty much every one of those languages, some based on standard transliterations, others maybe kind of sort of quasi-phonetic, still others whatever worked for the first batch from

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20, 2012 @06:09PM (#40059249)

      There, Their, They're, it'll all be better in the morning

    • Its. Learn it, love it, live it, and spell it CORRECTLY.

      FTFY: You were missing the serial (or Oxford) comma in your sentence.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The eclipse is basically over. Here in China it's arriving just after dawn and isn't going to be headed more than a thousand miles to the west of hear. In other words, this would have been useful information yesterday or the day before, but right now it's already passed pretty much everybody posting here.

    • Thank you for using "it's" correctly.
    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      It doesn't start in the US for a few hours.

      If you care about viewing astronomical events, you may want to find a more reliable space information source than /. (like an astronomy magazine).

      Also, you can't view this eclipse without eye protection.

    • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Sunday May 20, 2012 @06:18PM (#40059293) Journal
      This is incorrect. Here is a live feed []. Kicks off at 6PM Pacific time.
    • this would have been useful information yesterday or the day before,.

      Totally agree

      Just a few days notice and I'd of gone camping this weekend. Lake Almanor California,
      looks to be in the path of totality and only 450 miles from me. (NASA's PDF doesn't download).

      Too bad.

      I have seen one total eclipse as it passed overhead. Went to a local hill to watch it
      then late to work. It was grand, got to see a few prominences through the telescope.

      Like to of seen this one as well.

      On the bright side, this is one article not likely to be duplicated.

  • Kudos to someone who can point me to a website that lets you find out when you can see it baaed on your location. I've been looking on and off since yesterday and haven't been able to find the times for my area.
  • Solar eclipse during night time? Now, this is literally fantastic (i.e. pertaining to fantasy).
    • Well, if you want to be pedantic...
      Atmospheric refraction can make the disc of the Sun visible even when the Sun is below the horizon. Thus, if a solar eclipse were visible just above the horizon at sunset (as it will be in some parts of North America), it would technically be visible at night.

    • tonight != night time, though yes it was very occicentric of him to ignore the fact that it will be "tonight" only for those in the western hemisphere, and "tomorrow" for those in the east. But given that most of slashdot's readership is America or Europe, I feel that this is a forgiveable oversight
    • by jc42 ( 318812 )

      Solar eclipse during night time? Now, this is literally fantastic ...

      How so? Every eclipse (solar or lunar) happens when it's night for half of the Earth. I watched this eclipse (via two live Internet feeds) when it was completely dark outside here in Boston.

      In a similar vein, I've on several occasions amazed people by pointing out the moon that was visible in the daytime sky. It's curious that some people don't notice this until you trick them into looking at it.

    • Solar eclipse during night time? Now, this is literally fantastic (i.e. pertaining to fantasy).

      Check the article title: now you know why it is a _rare_ annular eclipse...normal annular solar eclipses are almost annual too (not quite but once every 1-3 years).

      • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

        Solar eclipse during night time? Now, this is literally fantastic (i.e. pertaining to fantasy).

        Check the article title: now you know why it is a _rare_ annular eclipse...normal annular solar eclipses are almost annual too (not quite but once every 1-3 years).

        A matter of terminology: to me, on Earth surface, night time is when the Sun is totally "eclipsed" by the Earth (the way I noticed, it happens every day). As such a "Sun eclipsed by Moon" - annular or not - cannot be observed during night time.

  • We would have had a good view of it where I am, in Vancouver Canada, seeing as much as 80% coverage, but it's raining, and the forecast for today shows that it's going to stay overcast for the next couple of days.

    I even managed to secure some special solar filter glasses especially for the occasion, and I won't get to actually see it.

    Sometimes I hate living here.

    Next one in my area, afaik, is in 2017... hopefully it won't be raining then as well, but knowing Vancouver, it's anybody's guess.

  • There's an eclipse tonight? It's the first I hear about it!

  • by loshwomp ( 468955 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @06:54PM (#40059415)

    You can't view it directly (at least not if you want your eyes to keep working) but you can make a pinhole viewer with minimal supplies and tools.

    Lots of options for variation, but I did this: Cut a postage-stamp sized hole in a cereal box (or something suitably opaque). Cut a small square of aluminum foil (scavenged from your tinfoil hat, if necessary) and tape it over the hole. Then use a pin to make the smallest hole possible in the foil.

    Hold the cardboard w/ pinhole up orthogonal to the sun, and project the pinhole image onto a white card.

    You'll see a tiny (reversed) image of the sun in the form of a small circle, and as the moon occludes it, you'll see it clearly.

    • by qvatch ( 576224 )
      the longer your box the larger magnification you get, but the harder it is to align correctly. Thus you want a long and wide box.
    • I was a child when my father did this for me and him, but we basically made 3d glasses, with negative film (the things used before digital cameras..) instead of red-cyan film. Worked great!
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      That's a complex way to make a pinhole viewer.

      Last time I saw one was in high school, and our math class happened around the time of the eclipse. One of the perks our math teacher did was when we completed, he took us outside and showed us the eclipse using nothing more than a sheet of looseleaf paper with a pinhole in it made from a pushpin.

      No, we didn't have a full eclipse, or even an annular one - this one was just a partial cresenting of the sun. Even with the crude viewer projected onto a concrete rail

  • Some broken clouds, but they weren't much of a problem.
  • Rare? (Score:4, Informative)

    by monkeyhybrid ( 1677192 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @07:03PM (#40059491)

    Annular eclipses occur every 15 months on average.

    NASA have a lot of solar eclipse stats [] for anyone interested.

  • The full eclipse line I found showed it to be about 10 hours drive from me. I would've gone had I been able to plan for it.

  • Am in Las Vegas, and was going to drive up to the center of the path to get the full effect. I decided not to waste the gas (a 240 mile round trip), and just discovered that I'm not going to miss all that much.. The NASA page with percentages of totality showed that where I was going (Zion National Park) was 96% coverage and simply staying here in Las Vegas, I get 92%.... Don't have any welders goggles, so I'm using the old "two cardboard pieces with a pinhole in one".. Went out about 15 min ago and sure en

  • It's pretty cool, though. :-) The moon is passing through, say, upper two-thirds of the sun sideways. Cloudless sky, but the light is dimmed like it was overcast.

    Birds are going apeshit. Rats are fleeing down the storm drains. Insects are doing synchro dance in the air. It's possible I'm lying.

  • by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @10:40PM (#40060737) Journal

    Here's my pics of the eclipse [], as the sun set past the Sandia Mountains.

  • The title sure looks strange. I guess for some people the event would occur at their night, but the important people today are the ones who are in daylight at the time and can see it and send photos for the rest of the world to see. Probably some of them are also slasdotters and will also wonder about the eclipse "tonight" article.

  • Tough viewing conditions in the Republic of Boulder, Colorado as lots of clouds - check out this image showing a lotta crud between me and the sun. []

    I was hoping to catch a time-lapse of the partially eclipsed sun setting over Longs Peak and it re-appeared literally at the last minute ... if I had been just a little bit farther South, I probably would have been totally skunked. Plus we weren't in totality, so never got the ring-o-fire. But still very cool to watch and here's my time-lapse video. []

    BTW, since I didn't have an ND filter, mine was total makeshift ... cut out one of the "eyepieces" from my Son's Eclipse Glasses and wedged that into the 2xTC teleconvertor! ;-)
  • Tonight? You mean, after sunset? Really?

  • Forget the west coast and pacific rim - here in the east, the rotation of the earth completely blocked the sun for almost 10 hours - spectacular!

  • Don't look at it with remaining eye.
  • We ended up in Redding CA to get to clear skies, but worth it. Can't wait for 2017!

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