Millions Take A Seat To Watch Sun's Spectacle Over Earth
May 21, 2012

Millions Take A Seat To Watch Sun’s Spectacle Over Earth

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Lee Rannals for

Millions of viewers across the U.S. and Asia were able to see the sun and moon's performance on Sunday, while others battled clouds and bad weather.

Watchers from the Western U.S. towards eastern Asia were able to look up towards the sky and see the annular eclipse, which is when the moon passes in front of the sun leaving just a golden ring around its edges.

Viewing parties could be found across the West Coast in the U.S., while other skywatchers gathered along the beaches in California to view the solar treat.

The lunar-solar alignment was visible in Asia early Monday, before it moved and was seen in parts of the western U.S. late Sunday afternoon.

The eclipse was broadcast on live television in Tokyo, where an eclipse of this type had not been seen since 1939.

A Japanese zoo said some of its ring-tailed lemurs climbed up and jumped between trees and poles during the eclipse, which is a behavior that is typically seen being done in the evening.

Doctors warned about eye injuries from watching the eclipse without using the proper equipment.  Special glasses are needed in order to view the sun for moments like this.  Photographers also needed to use solar filters when snapping images of the event, because the Sun can actually damage the sensor inside the camera.

Sunday's eclipse lasted for 3 1/2 hours, as the moon followed an 8,500-mile path across the sun, with the big "ring of fire" moment only lasting for about five minutes.

Although Europe was unable to see the eclipse, its space agency, ESA, was able to capture the event using is Proba-2.

The space weather microsatellite was only able to observe a partial solar eclipse because of its positioning around the Earth.

NASA says that the next solar eclipse will be on November 13, and will be visible over northern Australia. However, those wanting to watch another rare astronomy phenomenon will not have to wait that long.

On June 5, 2012, Venus will be passing across the face of the sun, which is a transit that will not be witnessed again until 2117.

The 2012 transit is the second of an 8-year pair, the first being back in June 2004.  No one alive during the transit eight-years ago had been around to have seen a Transit of Venus before.

The 7-hour transit will be observed on all seven continents on Tuesday, June 5, starting at 5:09 p.m. Central Time.