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"Ring of Fire" Solar Eclipse 05/20/2012 (Raw Video)

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Published on May 20, 2012

05/21/2012

Millions of people in Asia watched transfixed as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early on Monday.

The annular eclipse, when the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent.

It will move across the Pacific and also be visible in parts of the western United States.

In Japan, "eclipse tours" were arranged at schools and parks, on pleasure boats and even private planes.

Similar events were held in China and Taiwan as well, with skywatchers warned to protect their eyes.

The eclipse was broadcast live on TV in Tokyo, where such an eclipse has not been visible since 1839.

Japanese TV crews watched from the top of Mount Fuji and staked out a zoo south of Tokyo to capture the reaction of the chimpanzees - who did not seem to notice.

A light rain fell on Tokyo as the eclipse began, but the clouds thinned as it reached its peak, providing near perfect conditions.

"It was a very mysterious sight," said Kaori Sasaki, who joined a crowd in downtown Tokyo to watch the event.

"I've never seen anything like it."

At the Taipei Astronomical Museum in Taiwan, the spectacle emerged from dark clouds for only about 30 seconds but the view was almost perfect against Manila's orange skies.

"It's amazing. We do this for the awe (and) it has not disappointed. I am awed, literally floored," said astronomical hobbyist Garry Andreassen.

"Ring of fire" eclipses are not as dramatic as a total eclipse, when the disc of the sun is entirely blocked by the moon.

The moon is too far from Earth and appears too small in the sky to blot out the sun completely.

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