Last Night’s “time traveling” annular solar eclipse hundreds of miles wide and thousands of miles long, turned the familiar disk of the sun into a ring of fire for sky-watchers in parts of Asia and the U.S. West. An annular eclipse happens when the moon lines up between Earth and the sun. But in this case, the dark moon’s apparent diameter was smaller than the visible disk of the sun, leaving a fiery ring—or annulus—of light around the edges. The event was the first of its kind to be visible from the mainland United States since 1994. The region won’t see another such eclipse until 2023.
The annular eclipse started in China at local sunrise . The path of the moon’s shadow then went over Japan around 7:35 a.m., local time, and raced across the Pacific Ocean. Viewers looking through special solar filters saw a ring of sunlight around the black silhouette of the moon. The eclipse made landfall in North America in the late afternoon of May 20, starting at the California-Oregon border at 6:26 p.m. PT. The eclipse then crossed southern Nevada, southern Utah, the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona, the lower-left corner of Colorado, and most of New Mexico before ending in the area of Lubbock, Texas, around sunset at 8:36 p.m. CT