'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
'Ring of Fire' Eclipse Wows
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 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. (Read more Sun stories.)

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