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Solar eclipse: 'Ring of fire' visible in parts of Asia, Pacific and US (PHOTOS)


The 'ring of fire' annular solar eclipse as seen in Kanarraville, Utah on May 20 2012. The tiny town of Kanarraville, 40 miles north of St George and 263 miles south of Salt Lake City, hosted a viewing party to cash in on its prime position to view the phenomenon.


Robyn Beck

A rare annular solar eclipse dubbed "the ring of fire" has swept across the globe from southern China to Texas in the United States.

According to Associated Press, millions around the world watched the moon pass in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges.

The phenomenon was seen across 8,500 miles over three-and-a-half hours, starting in eastern Asia at dawn and then crossing over southwest Oregon, Northern California, central Nevada, southern Utah, northern Arizona and New Mexico and before finally setting in Texas, the news agency says.

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"It looks like a donut with a very big hole in it," NASA Space Scientist Jeffrey Newmark is quoted as saying by Reuters, who explains that its the first time an annular eclipse has been visible on American soil since 1994.

The Jakarta Globe says that heavy clouds obscured the event in Hong Kong, but Tokyo residents got a "spectacular view" for about four minutes. AFP described how Japan's major television stations cut live to the event, saying that it had generated a mini-boom in spending on special tour packages and viewing glasses. Japan Airlines laid on a sold-out observation flight.

However, the best spot to view the eclipse was the small town of Kanarraville, in Utah, which has a population of just over 300, the Deseret News reported. The town has no motel nor any restaurants but was expecting about 5,000 people to visit during the eclipse.

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"I recommend anyone who has the chance to see this, because while they do happen occasionally, it's a fairly rare event," Jeffrey Newmark, a solar physics specialist with NASA, told CNN.

 An annular eclipse occurs when the moon's orbit is at its furthest point from the Earth and closer to the much larger sun, TVNZ explains.

MSNBC says that events to mark the eclipse were held across the world "from an astronomical observatory in Hong Kong, to the alien-hunting Allen Telescope Array in California, to the ancient Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico," while thousands gathered online to share their observations.