May 15th, 2012
01:08 PM ET

Solar eclipse in North America on May 20

(CNNMéxico) – On Sunday, May 20, an annular solar eclipse will be visible from some areas of United States, northern Mexico and Canada, according to the Institute of Astronomy, in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM, Autonomous National University of Mexico).

"Solar eclipses occur when the moon covers the solar disk and projects its shadow on Earth," the Institute explained on its website.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon is in its new moon phase and is perfectly aligned with both the sun and the Earth. From our perspective, the sun is hidden.

During the astronomical phenomenon on May 20, the moon will be in one of its furthest positions from Earth, so its shadow will not be able to completely hide the sun, as would occur in a total eclipse.

That's why this phenomenon is called an annular eclipse. "For this beautiful phenomenon, the sun peeks over the edges of the moon as a bright shining ring," according to the Institute.

"In the United States, the afternoon sun will become a luminous ring in places such as Medford, Oregon; Chico, California; Reno, Nevada; St. George, Utah; Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Lubbock, Texas," according to NASA.

Other locations where partial phases of the eclipse will be visible include Alabama, Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri and New York. You can see the complete list of cities here (pdf).

If you are going to watch this annular eclipse, be careful not to look at the sun directly.

According to UNAM, although the area where you can observe the eclipse in its annular phase does not pass through Mexico, it will be partially visible in the northwest part of the country.

It will cover from 80% of the solar disk in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua), Tijuana and Mexicali (Baja California); up to 70% in the city of Chihuahua (Chihuahua) and Hermosillo (Sonora), and 60% in Cabo San Lucas, La Paz (Baja California Sur), Culiacan and Los Mochis (Sinaloa).

"The rest of Mexico will find difficulties to see the eclipse because the moon's first contact with the solar disk will be just minutes before the sun sets," said the Institute.

The estimated time for the start of the eclipse in the city of Chihuahua is at 17:37 hours in Ciudad Juarez, at 17:33 in Hermosillo, at 17:33 in La Paz, at 17:43 and in Tijuana at 16:28.

"This eclipse is the latest to pass through Mexico since the partial annular eclipse of April 8, 2005, visible in much of the country as partial," said the Institute of Astronomy.

The last total solar eclipse observed from Mexico was on June 11, 1991, recalled the scientific body.

The eclipse will also be visible in parts of China and Japan, according to NASA. "It's an annular solar eclipse, the last in the U.S. in nearly 18 years."

Planning to view the eclipse? Share your photos with CNN iReport and they could be featured on CNN.

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Filed under: Eclipse • On Earth
soundoff (151 Responses)
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  11. Burbank

    Why did we get a Mexican article about an eclipse that will occur here in the U.S.? How sloppy!

    May 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • cacique

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      May 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
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    May 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  13. LG

    "During the astronomical phenomenon on May 20, the moon will be in one of its furthest positions from Earth, so its shadow will not be able to completely hide the sun, as would occur in a total eclipse." The disk of the moon covers the sun. The moon's shadow does not hide the sun.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  14. Heroes fan

    no it means we are going to lose all of our powers.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  15. poppy

    If you drop the "an". you get MAY 20, 2012

    Which is December 21, 2012 or december 23, 2012.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  16. raynardo

    Think about it....
    1) this eclipse
    2) the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world
    3) Mr. New Year's Eve, Dick Clark, dies
    Coincidence? I think not!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • ajz

      please you have to stop believing this lie, THE MAYANS NEVER PREDICTED THE END OF THE WORLD, they saw was the end of a cycle, and a new one will start, new life, new realitiy, NO DEATH, NO DESTRUCTION IN COMING, remember thats what they want, they want you to have FEAR, do not have fear, NOTHING BAD WILL HAPPEN. I SWEAR TO YOU, NOTHING BAD WILL HAPPEN ANYMORE.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:05 am |
      • Marcelo

        his eyes wouldn't go red becsaue he was only taking the venom out of the blood. As what jenny has put . I am another twilight nut. I hate people that contradict a decent movie. You cant expect them to kept the consistancy up for every movie. The consistancy changes depending on how the actor/ actress is feeling and stuff. for example the one who plays rosalie , in new moon she was wearing a wig becsaue in twilight , she was getting her hair bleached every 6 weeks.

        August 3, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  17. andrachaim

    why do i have to live on the east

    May 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Ricardo

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      September 12, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  18. two faces

    beautiful mother nature showing off 🙂

    May 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  19. The Big Ragu

    Annular eclipses are the most dangerous of all eclipses to observe with the unprotected eye. There is no 'safe' time as in a total solar eclipse. Partial solar eclipses are a waste of time. You wouldn't even notice anything unusual was going on until the Sun is 95% obscured.
    The best thing to during a partial solar is to sit in the shadow of a tall leafy tree and watch the myriad pinhole images of the partially eclipsed Sun on the ground.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Guest

      I've seen that - saw about a 60% partial shining through tree leaves and it was beyond awesome. I went out on my balcony with my eclipse projector (pinhole in foil in a big piece of cardboard) and realized I didn't need it; the tree nearby was doing it better. I wouldn't have missed that for the world.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • alma

      What happens when you look at the sun with out protection?

      May 20, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  20. martin

    That eclipse may never make it out of Mexico alive.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  21. Robert

    How can the moon be at one of its furthest positions from Earth, when they JUST two weeks ago told us it was closer and brighter than it had been in many years???

    May 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Lunatic

      Because the moon's orbit is an ellipse, not a circle. The closer it comes to earth, the faster gravity pulls it, which means the moon will swing farther out around the other side.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • nathanbrazil

      Because the moon's orbit is not round. It moves to it's closest and farthest points every two weeks. What was unusual just a bit a go was that the closest approach coincided with the Full Moon phase. When that happens the moon is extra bright, which is what was being seen just recently.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Kieran

      The moon has a one month orbit. So, in two weeks it will move from perigee to apogee.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • madlogic

      Mind your business, Robert.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Kilted Mayhem

      Because Romney hates poor people.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
      • Mopery

        Corporations are poor people, my friend.

        May 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • RealSci

      Because the Moon revolves around the Earth in 29 days and since the moon's orbit is slightly elliptical, it is closer in the first half of the month and farther away in the second part of the month. The variation in distance is not that great though.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Grindstone

      Because SCIENCE

      May 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  22. Brendan

    How can the moon be at one of its furthest positions from Earth when it was just at Perahelion?

    May 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Brendan

      Oops, meant Perigee.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • nathanbrazil

      See my comment above.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Kilted Mayhem

      Because Obama hates rich people.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  23. David

    More fodder for the hopefuls looking for an apocolyptic event supposedly due in December.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  24. Penny Nickels

    Can I see this eclipse from Phoenix?

    May 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Fupped Duck

      I can see Russia from my house!

      May 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • manyote

      "People with clear skies across most of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will experience a partial eclipse of the Sun late this Sunday afternoon (May 20, 2012). Only those near the Eastern Seaboard will miss out." ''

      May 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • ellelephant

      That link will take you to a website that has the entire AZ eclipse pattern and times laid out.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • cacique

      Of course, but you will have to go outside, Miss Penny...

      May 16, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  25. hangar13

    Clearly, CNN browsers have a lot of time on their hands and little to do. I'm a bit surprised they didn't all jump on bandwagon about it all being Bush's fault. Lunch hour was fun but I have to get back to work, I humbly suggest that some of you timewasters look into getting a job yourselves.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • RZ70

      and some of us have kids for whom this would be their first eclipse and maybe have barely even encountered the concept in school. Of course, as the entire universe apparently revolves around you, I can see where you might consider this a waste of time.

      May 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • manyote

      Oh, but your time was not a "wasted time."
      Go hang yourself hangar13.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  26. Fred

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    May 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  27. TODAY

    Not entire doomsday...just half...LOL

    May 16, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  28. Oscar Pitchfork

    Can there really be that many people who surf CNN that need a 3rd-grad level explanation of what a solar eclipse is

    May 16, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • bob


      May 16, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Prescott

      Have you read the posts of most people in here? I think the explanation is over their heads.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:51 am |
      • ceg3 true

        May 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • Pri

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        August 3, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Michael

      @Oscar, hardly 3rd grad [sic]. A point of the story was to make the distinction between a total and an annular eclipse with the moon close to apoapsis (apogee). I thought that was particularly relevant.

      May 16, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • ED

      Not only do some of CNN's readers need the third grade explanation, but from the glaring errors in the article so does CNN's reporter! And where was the editor that these mistakes weren't caught? Given this level of incompetence on something as simple as a solar eclipse, one has to wonder how well they do on more complicated articles covering politics and finance.

      May 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  29. Brian

    This eclipse will actually be on May 19th in the PM for the US according to the time that 99.9% of us use in the U.S. Hopefully the author will make his future articles a little clearer or do a little more research because it took way too long to have to figure out the universal time conversion, not to mention the thousands of people who will look for this eclipse on May 20th according to the only time they know!

    May 16, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • gdubf

      So are you saying NASA is wrong too? A random CNN author, fine – but please provide a reference other than just your say-so that you're right and NASA is wrong. NASA also says May 20.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:39 am |
      • Brian


        click on the pdf link in the article. it has times of 00:25 and so on for when the eclipse starts. Those start times are in "Universal Time". Yes the eclipse starts on May 20th at OO30 universal time but for most of the U.S, we subtract approx 6 hours (dependant on your time zone) which would be 6:30 PM May 21st. Also note on the pdf that most of the eclipse times for the U.S. ends at sunset. I had no idea what Universal Time was so I researched it, unlike our author here.

        May 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
      • Brian

        Edit above... When 6 hours is subtracted it would be May 19th, not May 21st, sorry....

        May 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Michael

      @Brian, thank you for pointing that out. It looks like it is around 5:00pm – 7:30pm PDT on Saturday in my area.

      May 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Melodykari78

      You are absolutely correct. Thanks for pointing that out.

      May 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Jkush

      The PDF states that is the eclipse of May 20th, but the times listed are for UTC on the 21st. Watch the animation on the NASA page, , and note the date in the upper left hand corner when the shadow reaches the US. You will see that it does indeed say the 21st which means we will see it on the 20th like every other news article says we will

      May 16, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  30. PK

    I was taught that 00:12 was 12 minutes past midnight and 01:00 was 1 AM and 13:00 would be 1 PM even if this is universal time. What's up with the times on the chart?

    May 16, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • AngryA

      The times on the chart are "zero meridian time" or "zulu time". You need to add or subtract hours to find your local time.

      For Chicago it's local+5hrs will give you zulu time and zulu-5hrs will give you local time.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:53 am |
      • Captain Kundalini

        Zulu? That reminds me. I just got back in from Africa, you know. I was playing cards with the Natives.
        "Oh, Zulus?"
        No, I usually won. 🙂

        May 16, 2012 at 11:05 am |
      • Joe

        So this author felt a need to define Solar Eclipse but didn't think that he had to explain a time system that most people have never heard of so we know when to look for it?!

        May 16, 2012 at 11:33 am |
      • CouldBeMe

        I'm gonna buy me a dog...

        May 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • fintastic

      UTC is what used to be know as "Greenwich Mean Time" (GMT) meaning the time in Greenwich England.

      It is 5 hours ahead of U.S. eastcoast time depending on daylight savings.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • PR

      UTC is 4 hours ahead of the EDT, 5 hours ahead of CT and so on.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Jim Marquiss

      Right on! It is amazing to me that someone would write an article and not explain approximate timelines for this in understandable time units for most of the U.S. You can't even Google this and get a clear answer!!!!!!!!!.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • NODAT1

      good thing they are not using a Julian Calander with GMT time

      May 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  31. Andy

    For a solar eclipse to occur the moon must be in its 'new moon' phase not full moon phase, as stated in the article. As ED stated, a LUNAR eclipse requires the moon to be full.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • elandau

      I have corrected this error. Thank you for pointing it out.

      Elizabeth Landau, CNN

      May 16, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  32. Huh?

    Wait a minute, I can't look directly at the sun? Why was I not informed of this till now??

    May 16, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  33. Doobie Wah

    The moon is hollow.
    You have been decieved.

    May 16, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • caw's filled with marshmallows...

      May 16, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Penny Nickels

      It's actually made of a green moldy combination of Swiss and American cheddar.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  34. Giveteam

    Why is CNN running a "CNN Mexico" version of this story on the front page?

    May 16, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Michael

      Clearly the US edition is recycling the story rather than rewriting it.

      May 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  35. JimmyLimo

    The PRIME eclipse viewing party will be the "Mt Shasta Eclipse Concert" at Hoy Park in Lake Shastina, Weed CA, (no joke, named after Abner Weed) "high" on the slopes of Mt Shasta... FREE CONCERT with 13 musical acts... details at EclipseConcert dot com ...... google it

    May 16, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  36. silver_bullet

    But how will this effect my Lycanthropy? Should I cage up on the 20th? I'm still new to this.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Shane

      As most Lycanthropes change under the Full Moon and in order to have a solar eclipse, you need a new moon... I'd say you were fine.

      May 16, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  37. endOfDays


    May 16, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Krista

      Aren't you a year late?

      May 16, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • caw

      So..I shouldn't bother with that major project at work? Excellent.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • rofl

      I love all the apocalyptic morons. every year they predict THE END IS HERE THE SKY IS FALLING CHICKEN LITTLE.

      in the year 1.000 people were jumping out windows cos they were convinced the world was going to end.

      Back in 2000 it was y2k oh no stock up on toilet paper and water. I worked retail then it was a good sales pitch to move some overstock.

      Now its this whole 2012 malarky. c'mon people .... again...... really?

      when 2013 rolls around those of us with a brain in our head enough to know our butt from a hole in a ground, and know fiction from science, will be enjoying a cold drink and watching the ball drop, with a slight chuckle to all the apocalyptic idiots who are once again proven wrong.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • flashtrum

      Don't forget to jump off of a tall building that day so the invisible spaceship and carry you away with Marshal Crenshaw or whatever that dude's name was.

      May 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  38. Ed

    The moon has to be in it's full phase is a requirement for a lunar eclipse, not a solar eclipse.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Penny Nickels

      You are correct.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  39. Ed

    Firstly, it happens only during a new moon, not a full moon. The "requirement" comes in because the moon is between us and the sun, blocking the sun's light. Because it is there, the side towards us is dark. That is the definition of a new moon. If the moon was in any other phase, it would not be between us and the sun.and could not block the sun's light.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  40. Full Moon?

    "During a solar eclipse, the moon, which must be in its full moon phase, is perfectly aligned with both the Sun and the Earth, and from the perspective of the Earth, it hides the sun."

    I wasn't aware that the phase of the moon effected whether an eclipse happened or not. Last time I checked, an eclipse happened anytime the moon passed between the sun and the earth in the direct LoS of the sun. Where does the full moon requirement come into play?!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • MarcNJ

      actually it can be a full or new moon. This time it's a new moon.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:59 am |
      • Guest

        Actually ... the moon has to be in the new moon phase. That's the only time the moon is directly between the earth and the sun. Eclipses happen when the sun, moon, and Earth are in alignment to some degree (exactly in alignment = total eclipse). During the full moon, the Earth is directly between the sun and the moon. At this time, when the three are in alignment, is when we get our lunar eclipses.

        May 16, 2012 at 7:16 am |
      • MarcNJ

        Wow, duh on my part. Sorry, I knew better. I need more coffee before posting.

        May 16, 2012 at 7:34 am |
      • PBR

        Guest: "During the full moon, the Earth is directly between the sun and the moon. At this time, when the three are in alignment, is when we get our lunar eclipses."

        That first sentence cannot be true. If the Earth were DIRECTLY between the sun and the moon, we would experience a lunar eclipse. It cannot result in a full moon as the Earth would block the sun's light from reaching the moon's surface, resulting in a shadow.

        May 16, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Moonie

      The author is 100% wrong on that point... the "Full Moon" phase is when the moon is opposite the sun as seen from the earth, creating a bright reflective surface. The eclipse can only happen at the "New Moon" phase when the moon and sun are both on the same side of the Earth. This happens every month, but only occasionally does it produce an eclipse, and even then it is not always a total eclipse.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • dondondon

      if the moon is directly between sun and earth, it is a new moon – the only time possible for solar eclipse.. full moons occur when moon is directly opposite earth , which is only time possible for lunar eclipse

      May 16, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  41. Jokesterer

    The Mayans are coming!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • Darth Cheney

      Ironically, since Columbus saved his skin by predicting a lunar eclipse to the natives in 1504, a more correct response would be, "The Europeans are coming!"

      May 16, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  42. MarcNJ

    Oh no! It's a devil-moon-sun, it's foretold to signal a coming Apocalypse in 7 months. And 7 was a number of destruction to the Mayans, especially when it was a Sunday! Oh lordy, lordy! Praise Jeebus!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • CJ

      Actually, the Mayans didn't have Sundays.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:54 am |


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