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Solar eclipse 2012: where the best views will be

Experts said Sunday's "ring" eclipse will be visible across a wide area, including in California. But certain parts of the state will get a better view than others.

The best view of the ring eclipse -- which scientists call an "annular" eclipse, in which the moon completely blocks out the sun except for an annulus, or ring of fire, around the moon's edge --  is expected to be on the northern edge of California, near Eureka, Redding and the northern suburbs of Sacramento SE2012May20Aand Lake Tahoe. 

The rest of California should nevertheless get a prime view of a partial eclipse on Sunday evening, with the moon blocking out 86% of the sun's diameter in Los Angeles, according to Griffith Observatory officials. 

In Los Angeles, the moon will begin to obscure the sun at 5:24 p.m. Sunday, reach its maximum coverage at 6:38 p.m. and exit the sun's path at 7:42 p.m., just 10 minutes before sunset, observatory officials said.

The Griffith Observatory is set to hold a special eclipse-viewing event Sunday and plans to sell affordable eclipse-viewing glasses and other devices that will project images of the eclipse on the ground. Regular sunglasses will not protect the eyes, said observatory spokeswoman Susan Szotyori. 

Telescopes equipped with special filters will also be set up to help the public view the eclipse, officials said.

According to NASA, the annular eclipse will begin at sunrise local time in southern China, then pass over Hong Kong; Taipei, Taiwan; and Tokyo before reaching its greatest extent in the Pacific Ocean near Alaska's Aleutian Islands. After entering California, the moon's shadow will block almost all sunlight from Reno, Nev.; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Lubbock, Texas. 

The zone where a partial eclipse is viewable is much wider, stretching over most of eastern China, Korea, the Philippines, Siberia, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. NASA has posted calculations of solar eclipse times in foreign countries and the United States.

NASA has also set up an interactive Google map showing times of the eclipse -- click on the map and it'll show when the eclipse will begin and end anywhere in the world. The times are set to "Coordinated Universal Time," which is seven hours ahead of California. 

Annular eclipses are different from total eclipses, where no "ring of fire" is visible.

A word of caution: Don't look at the sun directly during the eclipse! Experts say it's possible to cause permanent damage to eyesight. Here's one way to make a simple pinhole projector to view the eclipse, and NASA also recommends using binoculars to project the eclipse on a white card. 

The eclipse should be visible unless fog rolls in early Sunday night.

Check out this NASA Google map to find Western locations affected by the eclipse.

Tweet your plans and photos to @latimes or @lanow with the hashtag #LATeclipse, or share your eclipse experience on our Facebook page. Let us know how your vantage point is. We'll be compiling the best reader moments from the evening.

LocationStart Partial EclipseStart Annular EclipseMax EclipseEnd Annular EclipseEnd Partial Eclipse% of sun diameter covered
Crescent City 5:07 pm 6:23 pm 6:26 pm
6:28 pm 7:35 pm 97%
Albuquerque, N.M. 6:29 7:33 7:35 7:38 8:36 97%
Redding 5:11 6:26 6:28 6:30 7:36 96%
Zion National Park 6:23 7:31 7:34 7:36 8:37 96%
Lake Tahoe 5:15 6:29 6:31 6:32 7:37 95%
Chico 5:13 6:28 6:30 6:31 7:37 95%
Eureka 5:09 6:25 6:27 6:29 7:36 95%
Grand Canyon 5:25 6:33 6:35 6:37 7:38 94%
Yosemite Village 5:18   6:33   7:39 92%
Sacramento 5:15   6:31   7:38 92%
Las Vegas 5:23   6:35   7:39 92%
San Francisco 5:15   6:32   7:39 90%
Monterey 5:18   6:34   7:41 88%
Palm Springs 5:26   6:38   7:42 86%
Lancaster 5:24   6:37   7:42 86%
Downtown L.A. 5:24   6:38   7:42 85%
Malibu 5:24   6:38   7:42 85%
Griffith Observatory 5:24   6:38   7:42 85%
Burbank 5:24   6:38   7:42 85%
Woodland Hills 5:24   6:38   7:42 85%
Chatsworth 5:24   6:37   7:42 85%
Santa Monica 5:24   6:38   7:42 85%
Alhambra 5:24   6:38   7:42 85%
Arcadia 5:24   6:38   7:42 85%
Rowland Heights 5:25   6:38   7:42 85%
Ontario 5:25   6:38   7:42 85%
Anaheim 5:25   6:38   7:42 85%
Oxnard 5:25   6:38   7:42 85%
Long Beach 5:25   6:38   7:42 84%
Redondo Beach 5:25   6:38   7:42 84%
Palos Verdes 5:25   6:38   7:42 84%
Huntington Beach 5:25   6:38   7:42 84%
San Diego 5:27   6:39   7:43 83%


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-- Rong-Gong Lin II

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