Rare solar eclipse visible in Bay Area

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Bay Area got a glimpse of a rare annular solar eclipse Sunday. The eclipse began at 5:16 p.m. and lasted until 7:40 p.m.

The event comes around only every two decades or so. The last time this type of eclipse was seen in the U.S. was in 1994.

Sunday's eclipse was a partial solar eclipse in which the moon blocked out about 84 percent of the sun.

Viewing parties were popular in the Bay Area. About 500 people gathered on the top deck of the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland to watch the event.

In the Bay Area, people won't see the halo effect and instead will see a bright crescent moon.

"This is the kind of event that you don't need to be an astronomer to appreciate it. You don't need to be a scientist," said Jonathan Braidman, a science instructor at Chabot.

Viewers shouldn't look directly at the sun and instead should use binoculars with special filters or special glasses to watch.

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