Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

May 2012 Solar Eclipse

The first solar eclipse in 2012 will be an annular solar eclipse on May 20–21. The term came from the Latin word “annulus,” meaning “little ring”, because the moon will not completely cover the sun during the totality (unlike in a total solar eclipse), but will leave a fiery ring around its circumference.

A telescopic picture of the Sun taken during the annular eclipse of January 15, 2010 from the city of Kanyakumari at the southern tip of India. Image Credit & Copyright: Mikael Svalgaard

Warning: NEVER look directly at the sun through binoculars, a telescope or with your unaided eye.

At its peak, the moon will block roughly 94 percent of the sun’s light.

This potentially spectacular solar eclipse  will be visible from much of Asia, the Pacific region and North America, provided the weather cooperates.

Time table worldwide

The eclipse starts in one location and ends in another, the times below are for visibility for any location on earth.

Event UTC Time Time in Manila
First location to see partial eclipse begins 20 May, 20:56 21 May, 04:56
First location to see full Eclipse begins 20 May, 22:06 21 May, 06:06
Maximum Eclipse 20 May, 23:54 21 May, 07:54
Last location to see full Eclipse ends 21 May, 01:39 21 May, 09:39
Last location to see partial Eclipse ends 21 May, 02:49 21 May, 10:49

Note to Philippine observers: The fiery ring would not be visible in the Philippines. Instead, a partial solar eclipse beginning at sunrise on May 21 will be visible.

Local circumstances of the partial solar eclipse on Monday (May 21) in the Philippines courtesy of UPLB Astronomical Society. Screenshots were taken using Stellarium.

Remember that this spectacular sight can only be safely observed with approved solar filters or by projecting an image of the eclipsed Sun onto a flat white surface.  Look for pinhole effects on the ground (shadows of trees or bushes) or use some another projection viewing method to safely view the eclipsed sun.

The Sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye ONLY during the few brief seconds or minutes of a total solar eclipse.  Even at maximum, the annular eclipse will not cover the brightest parts of the sun. Partial eclipses, annular eclipses, and the partial phases of total eclipses are never safe to watch without taking special precautions. Do not attempt to observe the partial or annular phases of any eclipse with the naked eye. Failure to use appropriate filtration may result in permanent eye damage or blindness!

Tips on how to view the Sun safely

“Filters for visual and photographic use

Acceptable filters for unaided visual observations include: aluminized polyester specifically designed for solar viewing, shade 12 and 14 welding filters, black polymer filters (Thousand Oaks Solar Shield 2000 and Rainbow Symphony Polymer), and two layers of fully exposed and developed silver-bearing black and white film negative. For photographic and visual use, particularly with binoculars or telescopes, acceptable filters include: aluminized polyester specifically designed for the purpose, and Questar and Thousand Oaks T1 and T2 glass filters. The Thousand Oaks T3 filter should be used with extreme care for photographic use only. Not recommended are: metal-coated polyester that is not specifically intended for solar observation, smoked glass, floppy disk media, black colour transparency (slide) film, floppy disk media, and compact disks (because of the inconsistent quality of the metal coating).”

I reiterate that you must protect your eyes at all times with proper solar filters when looking at the sun. However, do not let the requisite warnings scare you away from witnessing this wonderful phenomenon. :) Clear skies!
Recommended links for further information

For those who won’t be able to observe the eclipse from their location, you may still watch via live webstreaming of the event.

5 responses

  1. Pingback: Don’t miss today’s (20/21 May 2012) solar eclipse … « In Touch With the Sky

  2. Great info… I think we’re going to miss it here in Kentucky…

    May 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm

  3. I’m in Mexico, I hope I’ll be able to see it well enough. Are you planning on watching the solar eclipse? Take my quick poll http://knockoutsurveys.com/will-you-watch-the-solar-eclipse.html

    May 20, 2012 at 9:58 am

  4. Nicola

    Good warning about possible eye damage!
    For watching the sun I use solar glasses (http://amzn.to/JVibhG).

    May 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm

  5. Pingback: Ring of Fire solar eclipse this weekend – smiling pockets

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