Southern California environment news and trends

There goes the sun: Solar eclipse 2012 comes to Southland skies this Sunday

Children wear special glasses as they wa

FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images

2012 is turning out to be a banner year for area sky-watchers. It was just a couple of weeks ago when we were discussing how to best experience the “super moon” that loomed large over the city on Saturday night, May 5.

An equally rare astronomical occurrence happens this weekend: The first annular solar eclipse since 1994 that will be visible in Southland skies is due early this Sunday evening.

As reported by the L.A. Times, this “ring of fire” eclipse (when the moon and sun align perfectly, the moon appearing to block out most of the sun other than the outermost edges) will begin locally at 5:42 p.m. on Sunday night, peak at 6:38 p.m. and finish by 7:42 p.m., just 10 minutes before sunset at 7:52 p.m. Convenient, considering it is a school night. 

The Times warns that attempting to take in the eclipse along the coast is a dicey proposition that could leave viewers disappointed, depending on the weather (fog and low clouds are a real view-killer). Still, expect large crowds on SoCal beaches, so plan accordingly.

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Where to get the best view of the 'super moon' on Saturday night

Evelyn Grass

The super moon as viewed from Trabuco Canyon around 9 p.m. Saturday night.

This Saturday night the biggest full moon of the year will be looming large in the sky. Popularly known as a “super moon,” this rare occurrence happens when a full moon coincides with its arrival at perigee, which is when the moon comes closest to the Earth, a mere 221,802 miles away.

According to MSNBC, this particular perigee (which is scheduled to begin at 8:40 p.m. Pacific Standard Time) is the closest the moon will come to Earth all year, which means we’re in store for something of an "extra super" moon this weekend.

This month's full moon will be 16 percent brighter than average, Yahoo! News reports. We suggest looking for it just after it rises or before it sets, when it is close to the horizon.

For those wanting to get the best possible glimpse of this natural phenomenon, it’s all about getting as far away from city lights as possible. If you can’t make your way out to the desert, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy will be leading hikes in local mountains to make the most of the occasion.

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