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Solar eclipse: For all the hype, it was quite a show

May 21, 2012 |  8:01 am

The eclipse as seen from Texas

For all the hype, the "ring of fire" solar eclipse Sunday put on quite a show.

Millions of people watched the rare event, turning it into a party of sorts. And they took a lot of photos, which they posted on Facebook and Twitter.

The eclipse was captured in backyards, roofs and parks -- as well as from such landmarks as Staples Center before the Clippers game, Dodger Stadium, Hollywood Boulevard and Griffith Park and even on freeways.


The partial solar eclipse reached its peak in Los Angeles at 6:38 p.m., and visitors at the Griffith Observatory counted down the seconds at the top of their lungs before letting out a wail of excitement.

"The light is dimmer. The air is cooler," a woman said over a loudspeaker. "Nature gets a little strange during an eclipse."

Ryan Berg, 20, of Los Angeles watched the crescent-shaped image of the sun through a massive telescope. "That is so cool! Look at that," he said. "The light is so thin and wavy."

Observatory spokeswoman Susan Szotyori said more than 3,000 people watched the eclipse from the institute's mountaintop perch.

Some visitors decided to avoid the long lines for telescopes and watch the partial solar eclipse with homemade devices.

"We tried to buy special glasses and called five or 10 places, but everything was sold out," said Julie Lim of Arcadia, who used a pinhole viewer made out of cardboard packaging that came with gift wrap. She said it was the perfect way to help her 8-year-old daughter Iris monitor the eclipse's progress.

"We wanted to show our daughter that you need to think about what you can accomplish with your own hands without relying on anyone else," Lim said.

Solar eclipseIn Japan, Anthony Weiss, a native of Florida, faced 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 the clouds lightened up just enough for him to see the spectacle, which he photographed with his 8-year-old Canon PowerShot SD300.

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

Conditions were not so good atop Mt. Fuji, where Panasonic, trying to showcase its solar technology, had hired a team of climbers to broadcast the eclipse from Japan's tallest peak. The crew faced a windy snowstorm and battled to 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.

The next eclipse?

You'll have to wait awhile. The continental United States won't see another good show for five years. And Los Angeles won't see as stunning a show for 59 years.

But here is a sampling of what's next in store for the solar eclipse front in the United States.

2014: A partial solar eclipse is in store for the western United States on Oct. 23, 2014. Western Canada, Alaska and the northern edge of the U.S. border from Washington state to Wisconsin should have the best view, with more than 60% of the sun's diameter (its center line) blocked by the moon's shadow. California and the Southwest should see more than 40% of the sun's diameter covered.

2017: This is the one to travel for. A "total" solar eclipse -- an even better one than Sunday's "ring" eclipse -- will completely cover the sun's light, blotting out even the sun's outer fringes. Total eclipses are far more exciting because they will shroud the land in an eerie midday twilight. The Aug. 21, 2017, total eclipse will glide through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, northeastern Kansas, Missouri, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and South Carolina.

Los Angeles will see more than 60% of the sun's diameter covered up by the moon.


Solar eclipse creates eerie shadows and sunset

Solar eclipse 2012 creates social media photo frenzy

Millions looked to the sky for 'ring of fire' solar eclipse

-- Rong-Gong Lin II and Garrett Therold

Photos: Top, an annular eclipse on Sunday seen near Cadillac Ranch, Texas. Below, the eclipse seen from Tokyo. Credits: Michael Schumacher / Amarillo Globe News via Associated Press; Anthony Weiss