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Solar eclipse 2012: California likely to offer impressive views

May 19, 2012 |  4:51 am

Parts of California will have strong views of Sunday's "ring" eclipse.

Ringoffire_medThe partial solar eclipse will occur late in the day in Southern California on Sunday, beginning at 5:24 p.m., reaching its maximum coverage at 6:38 p.m., and exiting the sun's path at 7:42 p.m., just 10 minutes before sunset. "That means the sun is fairly low in the northwest, and you want a clear view of the northwest horizon," said Griffith Observatory director Ed Krupp. 

He suggested a place with a clear view of the northwest, with an elevated view and a clear horizon, to see the moon obscure the sun's beams. Griffith Observatory, which is run by the city of Los Angeles, will have extra telescopes and staff on hand to help people view the eclipse for free.   

"They'll be seeing something that is really unusual -- a big bite coming out of the sun. And that's the real charm of this event," Krupp said.

The best view of the ring eclipse  is expected to be on the northern edge of California, near Eureka, Redding and the northern suburbs of Sacramento SE2012May20Aand Lake Tahoe.

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. 

 Screen Shot 2012-05-15 at 9.18.24 PMThe 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

Photo: The moon cast a shadow at the sun blocking it partially in a partial solar eclipse as it sets on Jan. 26, 2009 in Manila's bay. Credit: Aaron Favila / Associated Press  

Photo: Ring of fire eclipse in China in 2010. Credit: NASA 

Photo: The difference between a total and annular eclipse. Credit: NASA