Solar eclipse 2012: Map shows best spots, best times for viewing
An interactive NASA Google map shows the best spots for viewing Sunday's solar eclipse, a once-in-a-generation event thrilling the Pacific Rim.
The Google map, available here, allows users to click on any location on Earth and see when the eclipse begins, hits its maximum and ends. The only trick is that you'll have to convert the time from Universal Time. But we've done the calculations for big cities below.
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.
|United States||Global Track||Hong Kong||Taiwan / China|
|Southern Japan||Central Japan||Northern Japan||California|
|Nevada||Utah / Arizona||New Mexico||New Mexico / Texas|
Those in the Asia will want to get an unobstructed, preferably elevated view of the eastern horizon; those in the U.S. will want a view of the west and northwest. And avoid clouds.
|Location||Start Partial Eclipse||Start Annular Eclipse||Max Eclipse||End Annular Eclipse||End Partial Eclipse||% of sun diameter covered|
|Hong Kong (AM)||5:08||6:06||6:08||6:10||7:16||94%|
|Crescent City, CA (PM)||5:07||6:23||6:26||6:28||7:35||97%|
|Zion National Park||6:23||7:31||7:34||7:36||8:37||96%|
Sunday’s “ring” eclipse is the first of its kind to be visible from the continental United States since 1994.
Those in the direct path of the eclipse will see the moon nudge its way into the center of the sun, leaving a ring of fire visible around the moon's edge. Scientists call this an annular eclipse. ("Annulus" means "ring" in Latin.)
According to NASA, the eclipse will begin at sunrise local time in southern China, then pass over Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo. After entering California, the moon's shadow will block the sun's light along a course from Reno to the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Albuquerque to Lubbock, Texas.
From a vantage point in Southern California, the moon will block about 85% of the sun's diameter, leaving behind a skinny C-shaped crescent sliver.
Monsoonal conditions could pose problems with cloud cover in Asia, and the U.S. Northwest, South and Midwest, but the weather is expected to be generally clear for most of California and the southwestern United States.
The last time Angelenos saw such an extensive solar eclipse was in 1992, but an approaching winter rainstorm ruined the view for many, including a crowd of 15,000 people at Griffith Observatory. The next time Los Angeles will see a solar eclipse this impressive will be in 2071, according to NASA expert Espenak.
Experts warn viewers not to look directly at the sun during the eclipse, since that could cause permanent damage to eyesight. Regular sunglasses will not protect the eyes, even if you wear more than one pair.
The simplest way to see it is to project it onto the ground in front of you by crisscrossing your fingers waffle-style to the sunlight, according to NASA.
You can also punch a nail through a piece of cardboard, and then angle it to project the sun's light onto another piece of cardboard. "When the sun goes into eclipse, you'll see a crescent," said Griffith Observatory director Ed Krupp. The smaller the hole, the sharper the image.
Another easy option is to use a hand mirror to reflect the light of the sun onto a wall or some other surface, Krupp said. NASA also suggests using binoculars to project the eclipse onto a white card.
— Rong-Gong Lin II
Maps are eclipse paths by Jay Anderson, who runs the website Eclipser. NASA has linked to Anderson's maps, and Anderson's website credits the eclipse tracks to NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak.