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Published on May 20, 2012
Millions of people across Asia were watching the sky as a rare 'ring of fire' eclipse crossed their skies. A 'ring of fire', or annular eclipse, appears when the Moon is further away and does not prevent all sunlight from getting through. During an annular eclipse, as the Moon aligns with the Sun, it appears as if there is a black hole in the middle of a burning disc -- its name comes from annulus, which means 'ring' in Latin. This time, the eclipse started on Sunday night (GMT) in China and Japan, and over the next four hours will traveled more than 10,000 km across the Pacific Ocean and onto the United States. But only those lucky enough to be in the 300-kilometer-wide corridor were be able to observe the eclipse. On average there are about four annular eclipses every five years. But they are always in different places.