Australia awaits spectacular “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse

The sun is obscured by the moon during an annular solar eclipse in Tokyo May 21, 2012.  (Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg)

The sun is obscured by the moon during an annular solar eclipse in Tokyo May 21, 2012. (Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg)

Later today and tomorrow, over parts of Australia and the Pacific ocean, the moon passes in front of the sun, leaving behind all but a golden trail of light.  The term for this dramatic alignment of the moon and sun is an annular or “ring of fire” solar eclipse.

The last annular eclipse occurred May 20, 2012, and was viewable over parts of the western U.S.

A thundershower rolls through as an annular solar eclipse appears in Gardnerville, Nev. on May 20, 2012. (Cathleen Allison / AP)

A thundershower rolls through as an annular solar eclipse appears in Gardnerville, Nev. on May 20, 2012. (Cathleen Allison / AP)

This year’s version will not be visible over North America, but will be
broadcast online via the Slooh Space Camera for all to see.

Animation credit: NASA Eclipse Web Site

Animation credit: NASA Eclipse Web Site

To the right, see an animation of the path of the eclipse over time, created by NASA. The time ticker displays Universal Time so make the appropriate adjustment to obtain your local time (for Eastern Daylight Time in the U.S., it is a 4-hour subtraction).  The large aqua shaded area represents the region where a partial solar eclipse will be visible and the red dot shows the very limited area that will be treated to the annular eclipse in all its glory.

The website Earth Sky provides a detailed location-based timeline of the eclipse evolution. And AccuWeather provides a forecast of sky conditions along the eclipse’s path; it is generally favorable for viewing.

For anyone in the path of the eclipse, here’s a set of safe viewing guidelines we put together last year: Solar annular eclipse: viewing advice

We’d welcome any photos which you can post on our Twitter Feed, Facebook page, or Flickr group.

The next solar eclipse viewable in the U.S. will be a partial solar eclipse on October 23, 2014. But just wait until August 21, 2017 when a total solar eclipse traverses the country crossing the U.S. from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

Also on Capital Weather Gang

Washington D.C.'s bubbly, stormy skies Wednesday