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Solar eclipse creates eerie shadows and sunset

May 20, 2012 |  7:02 pm

The "ring of fire" solar eclipse brought crowds out onto streets, into their backyards and onto roofs to catch a glimpse of the historic event.

The eclipse created an eerie sunset and unusual shadows across Southern California, with about 86% of the sun's diameter blocked by the moon.

Viewing parties were in full swing around California and other places where the eclipse was visible. People have been frantically posting photos on Twitter and Facebook. The photos showed people in Hollywood stopping to look at the setting sun. Others were viewing the event at hillside parks like Runyon Canyon and the Mulholland Drive overlook.

More than 1,000 people converged at the Griffith Observatory.

"Who sees it? Who sees it?" an announcer asked over the loudspeaker as those in the crowd waved their hands in the air and whistled as the eclipse began about 5:30 p.m.

The eclipse is supposed to last until 7:42 p.m.

The eclipse as seen in JapanIn Japan, Anthony Weiss, a native of Florida, battled passing clouds in his Tokyo neighborhood and feared he wouldn't be able to see the "ring" eclipse, when the moon blocks all but the sun's outer edge.

But then the clouds lightened up just enough for him to see the spectacle, which he photographed with his eight-year-old Canon PowerShot SD300.

"I could very clearly see the ring," Weiss told The Times.

But the news was not so good on top of Mount Fuji, where Panasonic, trying to showcase its solar technology, had hired a team of climbers to broadcast the "annular" eclipse from Japan's tallest peak. The crew members faced a windy snowstorm and battled to just keep their footing.

And in Hong Kong, a storm ruined the view. "Cloudy in Hong Kong, no luck for the solar #eclipse, so sad," tweeted @hanggyho.

From a vantage point in Southern California, the moon will block about 85% of the sun, leaving behind a skinny C-shaped sliver.

HOW TO SEE THE SOLAR ECLIPSE

With NASA's eclipse website beginning to crash under the weight of eclipse frenzy, flat maps of the eclipse path by Jay Anderson, who runs the website Eclipser, are listed below. NASA has linked to Anderson's maps, and Anderson's website credits the eclipse tracks to NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak. Click on the images below or the following links to see a bigger map.

Usa1 United States Global track Global Track China1 Hong Kong China2 Taiwan / China
Japan1 Southern Japan Japan2 Central Japan Japan3 Northern Japan US1 California
US2 Nevada US3 Utah / Arizona US4 New Mexico US5 New Mexico / Texas

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-- Rong-Gong Lin II and Garrett Therolf

Photo: The ring eclipse in Tokyo. Credit: Anthony Weiss

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