Mark your calendar for Sunday, May 20, 2012. If you’re at just the right place in the western United States, you can watch an annular – or ring – eclipse of the sun on that day. It will be the first annular eclipse to take place in the mainland United States since May 10, 1994, and the next one won’t come until October 14, 2023. An annular eclipse happens whenever the new moon swings directly in front of the sun, blocking out all but the outer portion of the solar disk from view. This kind of eclipse presents an apparent ring of fire – really, the outer edge of the sun – around the moon in the daytime sky at mid-eclipse.
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