Annular Solar Eclipse May 2012
Programmer: Bill Kramer
Last update: April 17 2015
May 20, 2012
Location of Path
Local Circumstances Calculator
Timings for specific locations
The best chance for avoiding clouds will be in the USA as the eclipse path ends. The problem will most likely be terrain which can be mountainous with few roads in places. Estimates for finding a clear area to view are well over 70% in favor of the well informed eclipse chaser as the eclipse will be in the late afternoon.
In China and Japan the odds are not quite as favorable. At best a 50% chance given the typical weather of the season. Stay tuned to local weather forecasts the evening before and early morning of the eclipse.
Important note: This eclipse starts May 21st in China. As the eclipse path moves eastward it will cross the International Dateline before entering the USA where it is still be May 20th.
Annular solar eclipse visible across the Pacific from the coast of China to the southwestern USA. The odd date for this eclipse results from the fact that it starts on the other side of the International Date Line. When the eclipse starts, it will be the 21st of May for the local time zones. As the eclipse progresses it passes over the date line headed eastward. This annular eclipse will be visible in the late afternoon in the USA on the 20th (local date/time). As the eclipse path meets the coast the sun will only be about 20-30 degrees above the horizon (30 degrees at the start of the partial phase, just over 20 during the annular phase).
Maps: Michael Zeiler has prepared a series of detailed maps for this eclipse. Click here to view them.
Important: You must use a solar filter or some other safe solar viewing method during an annular eclipse. Even at maximum, the eclipse will not cover the brightest parts of the sun. 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.
Commentary: The normal "rule of thumb" in eclipse chasing is that a total solar eclipse is worth any and all effort to see, no matter where it is in the world. An annular eclipse is worth driving or taking a short flight to see. A partial is worth looking at. Annular eclipses, so named because of the ring shape of the sun, are fun to watch however they lack the complete transformation seen during a total solar eclipse. If you live in the western part of the USA it is worth taking a look to see if you can get to the central line.
Links to external websites
Evan Zucker images from western Texas