Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

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


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.

Huffington Post relates that the Griffith Observatory is hosting a public viewing of the eclipse on the observatory lawn, complete with staff on hand to explain what exactly will be going on in the sky. Again, expect a sizable crowd of fellow eclipse-viewers.

Hardcore sky-watchers will have to travel outside of the Southland to get the full “ring of fire” effect (here in Los Angeles, only 86 percent of the sun will be blocked out), with prime viewing spots in Albuquerque, the Grand Canyon and Northern California areas like the northern suburbs of Sacramento or Lake Tahoe.