Where And When To See The May 20 Annular Solar Eclipse

By Amir Khan on May 18, 2012 11:25 AM EDT

The West Coast of the United States is in for a treat on Sunday. The moon will pass in front of the sun causing an annular solar eclipse, a rare event in which the sun is blocked almost entirely by the moon, leaving only a thin "ring of fire" in the sky.

"I recommend anyone who has the chance to see this, because while they do happen occasionally, it's a fairly rare event," said Jeffrey Newmark, a solar physics specialist with NASA, told CNN. "It's a neat thing to see."

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The last annular eclipse was in 1994.

The eclipse will be visible in a path from Texas to Arizona, passing through Utah, Nevada, California and Oregon as well. If you plan to view the eclipse, you need to take precautions, according to NASA.

"Partial and annular solar eclipses are never safe to watch without taking special precautions," NASA says on its website. "Direct viewing of the Sun should only be done using filters specifically designed for this purpose. Such filters usually have a thin layer of aluminum, chromium or silver deposited on their surfaces that attenuates both the visible and the infrared energy. A widely available alternative for safe eclipse viewing is a number 14 welder's glass. However, only mylar or glass filters specifically designed for the purpose should used with telescopes or binoculars"

You can see the path of the eclipse below and check out what time the eclipse will be available in your area here.

The path of the 2012 annular solar eclipse
The path of the 2012 annular solar eclipse

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