Ring Of Fire: Watch Solar Eclipse 2012 Online

on May 20 2012 9:37 PM

Anticipation is rising in the Western United States as a solar eclipse is sweeping across the globe, having just come from Asia across the Pacific Ocean to North America.

Dubbed the ring of fire, the eclipse features a moon that is expected to pass in front of the sun at 9:30 p.m. EDT, visible to many in states west of the Mississippi. Those beyond the river, however, will need to resort to online streams, like the one below.

Live streaming by Ustream

The event began in eastern Asia, and it has now crossed the North Pacific Ocean to end in the western U.S., according to NASA.

The Slooh SpaceCamera started streaming live feeds from telescopes in Asia and various places across the U.S. at 5:30 p.m. EDT.

The western United States will enjoy bizarre solar effects that only occur every few decades, said astronomer Bob Berman, a commentator on the Slooh event. In the annularity path, which will be about 147 miles [237 kilometers] wide when hitting our shores, the black moon will stand like a bull's-eye in front of the sun, its motion through space in-your-face obvious.

Residents in Japan were treated first. For the more than 10 million residents within the Tokyo metropolitan area, the annular phase lasted five minutes, beginning at 22:32 UTC on Sunday, which is 5:32 p.m. EDT.

Japan's Panasonic sent an expedition to the top of Mount Fuji, but dense clouds spoiled some of the view. Across Japan, eclipse tours were arranged at schools and parks, on boats, and even in private airplanes. Similar events were held in China and Taiwan, as well.

The ring of fire gets its name due to the fact that -- unlike a total eclipse, where the moon blocks out the whole sun -- this event is an annular eclipse. Because the moon is near the farthest point from Earth in its orbit, it is too small in the sky to cover the sun's face completely, and it will instead cover enough to leave a ring in the sky.

NASA said that during the course of its 3.5-hour trajectory, the event will cover roughly 13,600 kilometers and 0.74 percent of Earth's surface area.

solar eclipse

The moon slides across the sun, showing a blazing halo of light, during an annular solar eclipse at a waterfront park in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on Monday there and Sunday in the U.S. solar eclipse