Eclipse Puts on a Show Over O.C.

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Friday, May 18, 2012
Pat Brennan
The Orange County Register

The moon rolled in front of the solar disk Sunday evening, turning the sun into a thin crescent as it sank in the west.

The partial, or “annular,” eclipse peaked about 6:30 p.m., well before sunset.

Orange County took the full measure of the eclipse, from the beach as well as inland. Some gathered at the UC Irvine Observatory from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

In the old days, astronomers used eclipses to learn secrets of the solar system. But not so much today.

“It’s been a long time since eclipses were a big science thing,” said Caltech astronomy professor George Djorgovski. “Now it’s really just a wonderful phenomenon of nature, for people to wonder about the universe.”

While the annular eclipse was visible in Orange County,  we didn’t get to see the “ring of fire” visible farther north.

There, the moon appeared to move into the center of the sun, leaving a fiery ring around the moon’s edges. Unlike an annular eclipse, a total eclipse occurs when the moon is closer to Earth, and appears to blot out the sun completely.

The ring-of-fire effect was visible in a live feed above about 6:30 p.m. from the Slooh Space Camera, headquartered in New York City, which provided real-time webcasting of the eclipse from Japan, California, Arizona and New Mexico.