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Solar eclipse of May 20, 2012

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Solar eclipse of May 20, 2012
Solar Eclipse May 20,2012.jpg
Composite image taken from Red Bluff, California
Type of eclipse
Nature Annular
Gamma 0.4828
Magnitude 0.9439
Maximum eclipse
Duration 346 sec (5 m 46 s)
Coordinates 49°06′N 176°18′E / 49.1°N 176.3°E / 49.1; 176.3
Max. width of band 237 km (147 mi)
Times (UTC)
(P1) Partial begin 20:56:07
(U1) Total begin 22:06:17
Greatest eclipse 23:53:54
(U4) Total end 1:39:11
(P4) Partial end 2:49:21
Saros 128 (58 of 73)
Catalog # (SE5000) 9535

An annular solar eclipse took place on May 20, 2012 (May 21, 2012 in local time in the Eastern Hemisphere). One of the three main types of solar eclipses, an annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun's, as compared to a total solar eclipse, when the Moon completely blocks the Sun.

The eclipse was visible in large areas of the Eastern Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere, including the land masses of Eastern Asia and North America. It was the first annular eclipse to pass over the contiguous United States since the solar eclipse of May 10, 1994, which occurred 18 years prior to this event.[1] It was the first over Asia since the solar eclipse of January 15, 2010.

Path and viewing[edit]

Animated path of the eclipse

The antumbra stretched 236 kilometres (147 mi) wide and travelled eastbound at an average rate of 1.00 kilometre (0.62 mi) per second, remaining north of the equator throughout the event. The longest duration of annularity was 5 minutes and 43 seconds, occurring just south of the Aleutian Islands. The greatest extent (or width) of the eclipse occurred about 3 minutes after the greatest duration, with 89% of the sun being covered by the moon.[2] The eclipse is notable for beginning on a Monday and ending on the previous Sunday, as it crossed the International Date Line.[1]


The eclipse began in Southern China at sunrise, shortly after 6:00 a.m. local time. Within an hour, the antumbra of the eclipse had approached and passed over the cities of Guangzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou, and Fuzhou, as well as Hong Kong and Taipei, Taiwan. After crossing the East China Sea, the eclipse passed over much of eastern Japan, including the cities of Nagoya and Tokyo, before entering the Pacific Ocean. The penumbra of the eclipse was visible throughout Eastern Asia and various islands in the Pacific Ocean, lasting until late morning.[2][3][4]

The path of the antumbra over highly populated areas allowed at least an estimated 100 million people to view annularity.[5] Because it took place during the Summer monsoon season in Southeast Asia, viewing conditions were not ideal in some areas, including Hong Kong.[6]

North America[edit]

After traveling approximately 4,000 miles (6,437 kilometers) across the Pacific Ocean, the antumbra entered North America between the coastlines of Oregon and California, at 5:28 p.m. local time. Within 45 minutes, it had passed over Medford, Oregon, Redding, California, and Reno, Nevada. It continued traveling southeast, passing 30 miles (48 km) north of Las Vegas, Nevada, and directly over Cedar City, Utah, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Lubbock, Texas before terminating above central Texas at sunset. The prenumbra was visible throughout most of North America, including the islands of Hawaii.[2][3][7]

An estimated 6 million people lived under the path of the antumbra. Numerous gatherings were held to view the eclipse, with some involving thousands of people.[7][8] The eclipse was broadcast on various media outlets for those who couldn't see the eclipse.[9] Thirty-three national parks were under the direct path of the eclipse.[10]



United States[edit]

Related eclipses[edit]

Solar eclipses 2011–2014[edit]

Each member in a semester series of solar eclipses repeats approximately every 177 days and 4 hours (a semester) at alternating nodes of the Moon's orbit.[Note 1]

Saros 128[edit]

This eclipse is a part of the Solar Saros cycle 128, which contains 73 events occurring every 18 years and 11 days. From May 16, 1417 through June 18, 1471 the series produced total solar eclipses, followed by hybrid eclipses from June 28, 1489 through July 31, 1543, and annular eclipses from August 11, 1561 through July 25, 2120. [11]

Metonic series[edit]


  1. ^ The partial eclipses of January 4, 2011 and July 1, 2011 occurred in the previous semester series.


  1. ^ a b Friedlander, Blaine (May 17, 2012). "Annular solar eclipse first in 18 years in continental United States on May 20". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 19, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c "Annular Solar Eclipse of 2012 May 20". NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Eclipse Website. NASA. May 13, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Map of Annular Solar Eclipse of May 20, 2012" (Map). Annular Solar Eclipse of May 20, 2012. NASA. 2000. Retrieved October 17, 2017. 
  4. ^ Matsutani, Minoru (May 4, 2012). "Tokyo to be treated to rare annular eclipse, Venus transit". The Japan Times. Retrieved 17 October 2017. 
  5. ^ Beatty, Kelly (March 1, 2012). "May 20th's Annular Eclipse of the Sun". Sky and Telescope. Retrieved September 19, 2017. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "May the Sun Shine on Rare Eclipse". South China Morning Post. May 20, 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Potter, Ned (May 18, 2012). "Solar Eclipse Visible From California to Texas Sunday Afternoon". ABC News. Retrieved September 21, 2017. 
  8. ^ Tariq, Malik (May 21, 2012). "Spectacular "Ring of Fire" Solar Eclipse Wows Millions". Retrieved September 19, 2017. 
  9. ^ Stenovec, Timothy (May 18, 2012). "Solar Eclipse 2012: How To See The May 20 Annular Eclipse". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2017. 
  10. ^ Fazekas, Andrew (May 20, 2012). "Solar Eclipse 2012: How to See "Ring of Fire" May 20". National Geographic News. National Geographic. Retrieved September 19, 2017. 
  11. ^ "NASA Saros Series Catalog of Eclipses". NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Eclipse Website. NASA. Retrieved 13 October 2017.