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Ring of Fire

January 04, 1992

Southern California will be treated to its second solar eclipse in six months today, when the sun will slide down behind the moon just before sunset. In this event, called an annular ecipse, the moon will cover the center of the sun, creating a "ring of fire" on the horizon. Sun / Moon: 4:13 p.m., 4:33 p.m., 4:43 p.m., 4:48 p.m., 4:54 p.m.

Phases of the Eclipse At 3:34 p.m., the moon will begin climbing up through the bottom of the sun. The ring phase, when the moon is silhouetted within the sun, will begin at 4:50 p.m. Sunset will occur a few minutes later.

Watching the Eclipse Watching a partial or annular eclipse, even for very brief periods, can damage the eyes, but there are ways to view it safely.

Winston A. Saunders of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Caltech has designed an "eclipse projector" for indirect, harmless viewing.

To make such a projector, cut a one-inch diameter in a piece of heavy paper and tape the paper over the entire surface of a mirror.

During the eclipse, point the mirror at the setting sun, then project the image onto a white wall.

Annular Eclipse A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, blocking the sun partially or completely. During an annular eclipse, the moon will appear centered within the sun.

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