Millions witness rare ‘ring of fire’ eclipse

This Sunday, May 20, 2012, photo, shows an annular solar eclipse in Kanarraville, Utah. Views of the eclipse stretched from California to Texas and was the first time in 18 years an annular eclipse was visible in the continental United States. (AP Photo/The Spectrum, Samantha Clemens)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Millions of people across Asia and the western United States watched as a rare “ring of fire” eclipse crossed their skies.

The annular eclipse — in which the moon passes in front of the sun, leaving only a golden ring around its edges — was seen in the western U.S. late Sunday afternoon and in Asia early today (local time).

In some parts of the U.S., special camera filters for taking photographs had been sold out for weeks in anticipation of the big event. Viewing parties were held in Reno, Nev., Oakland, Calif., and elsewhere.

People from neighboring states and Canada traveled to Albuquerque, N.M., to enjoy one of the best vantage points.

Members of the crowd cheered, and children yelled with excitement as the moon crossed the sun and the blazing halo of light began to form.

In Japan, “eclipse tours” were arranged at schools and parks, and even private airplanes. Similar events were held in China and Taiwan.

The eclipse was broadcast live on television in Tokyo, where such an eclipse hadn’t been visible since 1839. Japanese TV crews watched from the top of Mount Fuji.