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Ring of Fire
by Tribune Staff and Associated Press
May 20, 2012 | 1650 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Nathan Orme - The moon begins to cross in front of the sun during Sunday’s eclipse, as seen through a welder’s mask provided by Eric Scheetz of Reno, an engineer with the Truckee Meadows Flood Project.
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RENO — Thousands gathered at the MacLean Observatory on the Redfield Campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, to view the solar annular eclipse as it moved through the sky early Sunday evening.

A chorus of “ooh” and “aah” could be heard throughout the crowd as the eclipse reached its peak for about four minutes at about 6:30 p.m. when the moon moved directly into the center of the sun. Locals came equipped with filters and special telescopes to take in the sight, though all their technology was powerless against the power of clouds that obscured the sight sporadically throughout the several hours of the event.

The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across North America and Asia. It first moved across Asia, where millions watched it on their Monday, and then across the Pacific to various parts of the western United States.

In Japan, “eclipse tours” were arranged at schools and parks, on pleasure boats and even private airplanes. Similar events were held in China and Taiwan as well.

Mostly clear skies permitted excellent viewing in Nevada, while Hong Kong skywatchers weren’t so lucky. Several hundred people gathered along the Kowloon waterfront on Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Harbor, most of them students or commuters on their way to work. The eclipse was already underway as the sun began to rise, but heavy clouds obstructed the view.

The eclipse followed a narrow 13,700-kilometer (8,500-mile) path for 3 1/2 hours. The ring phenomenon lasted about five minutes, depending on location. In Reno, viewers could see it for a little longer. People outside the narrow band for prime viewing saw a partial eclipse.

“Ring of Fire” eclipses are not as dramatic as a total eclipse, when the disk of the sun is entirely blocked by the moon. The moon is too far from Earth and appears too small in the sky to blot out the sun completely.
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