'Ring of Fire' Eclipse Wows

'Ants look up from anthill,' notes one observer

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted May 20, 2012 11:22 PM CDT | Updated May 21, 2012 5:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – The rare "ring of fire" annular solar eclipse did not disappoint. Millions of watchers from Tokyo to San Francisco and Albuquerque stood transfixed before homemade pinhole boxes, telescope projections, live action on computers—or peered at the sky with special cardboard glasses as the moon moved into position to turn the sun into a crescent, and, finally, left a slender, fiery ring around the mega star. Heavy clouds obscured the sun in Hong Kong, but the sky was clear for minutes in Tokyo to the delight of earthlings. After sweeping across the Pacific, the eclipse was spotted in Oregon and northern California, then Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, notes CNN. "Is it the nerd in me that's beyond excited to see this solar eclipse?" asked a tweeter.

"It was a very mysterious sight. I've never seen anything like it," Tokyo watcher Kaori Sasaki told the BBC. Panasonic sent an expedition to the top of Mount Fuji to film the eclipse using solar-powered equipment. "This can get people to look up from their little anthill lives, and maybe get a sense of the bigger cosmic cycles that are going on all the time over our heads," said a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.The event was last witnessed in the US in 1994, and won't be seen again until 2023.

The sun sets behind a barn and windmill southwest of Ellis, Kansas, during a partial solar eclipse.   (AP Photo/The Hays Daily News, Steven Hausler)
The eclipse is spotted through windows at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport yesterday.   (Getty Images)
The sun puts on a show during sunrise in the coastal town of Gumaca, Quezon province, southeast of Manila.   (Getty Images)
A small bird rests at a powerline backgrounded by an annular solar eclipse seen from Los Angeles ,California on May 20, 2012 . AFP PHOTO /JOE KLAMAR   (Getty Images)
A father and his two sons watch an annular solar eclipse outside the Staples Center durng the NBA basketball playoffs in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A girl with her mo observe the solar eclipse, which is projectedonto a white background through a telescope, at Takayama village in Gunma prefecture, north of Tokyo.   (Getty Images)
An annular eclipse appears at a waterfront park in Yokohama, near Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Junior high school students observe the annular solar eclipse through special glasses at the playground of their school in Kawakaki, surburban Tokyo.   (Getty Images)
The annular solar eclipse in Yokohama, near Tokyo, appears as if someone has drawn a line of light around the darkened sun.   (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
South Korean astronomy students use telescopes and special sunglasses to observe an annular solar eclipse in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire"...   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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