2012-05-17 / Front Page

County sees rare solar eclipse

Sunday's eclipse throws weird shadows on a building in Midpines.Sunday's eclipse throws weird shadows on a building in Midpines.The light turned weird and dim on Sunday evening as a rare annular solar eclipse unfolded above Mariposa County.

The eclipse photo seen with this article was taken from a telescope fitted with a filter off Colorado Road.

At its peak around 6:30 p.m., most of the sun's disk was obscured by the moon from this point of the state. A bit farther north, in Chico, Calif. and Reno, Nev., the moon fit completely inside the sun--creating a "ring of fire" effect for viewers.

The astronomical happening was an annular eclipse, in which the moon blocks about 95 percent of the sun at its greatest extent. According to the laws of probability, an annular eclipse is visible from any given point on Earth once every 245 years. Total eclipses occur when the moon is closer to Earth.

During the short period of "totality" during a total eclipse, the sun is completely obscured, creating a brief artificial night on a narrow band of the planet.

A total eclipse will pass over Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska and parts of the southeastern U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017.

--Erik Skindrud/GAZETTE REPORTER

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