The Annular Solar Eclipse & Stargazing in May 2012

"During an Annular eclipse, the Sun will appear as a bright ring (an annulus) around the dark silhouette of the Moon."
Image via JPL What's Up for May 2012

Updated on May 19, 2012

The Annular Solar Eclipse is on Sunday, May 20th. "The Moon will pass in front of the Sun, transforming sunbeams across the Pacific side of Earth into fat crescents and thin rings of light." via NASA Science.

Where can I see the eclipse?
To find an event in the Bay Area, or in
 the U.S.A., check the NASA Night Sky Network calendar. Many National Parks are holding events. The Slooh Space Camera will broadcast a free, real-time feed of the Annular Solar Eclipse live from telescope feeds in Japan, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Sign up for the Facebook event or go to the Slooh website


What's an eclipse? Here are two great videos to help you understand: 
NASA Science: Solar Eclipse in the U.S.A.
What's Up for May 2012 

Get great maps and details at the NASA Eclipse website. Fred Espenak explains that the May 20-21 eclipse is part of longer cycle in this EarthSky article. If you're interested in solar photography, Espenak explains How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse.  


Your StarGazing Shortlist
May is an exciting month! We've made a list for you from Jane Houston Jones/JPL's What's Up for May 2012 so that you can be sure to see May's stargazing highlights. Get out to a star party to get some sweet views through fabulous telescopes. Join an astronomy club - you'll share information, be able to borrow equipment, and learn or perfect your use of binoculars and telescopes. You don't need to know a thing about astronomy to go to a club event or to join a club. 

May 20, 2012 is the "ring of fire" annular solar eclipse,  an event you won't want to miss. It's the first annular eclipse visible from the contiguous United States in almost 18 years. This is a daytime event, perfect for family fun and you'll want to watch with your local astronomy club. 

Venus will drop in altitude all month long. Through a telescope you'll see a slender crescent. Look west.

Mars & Saturn are great to look at this month, especially through a telescope. Look east. Curiosity, the Mars Rover, will land in Gale Crater in August 2012. 

Are you crazy about stargazing? Can't get enough? Here are resources to plan your time looking up: 

Watch What's Up for May 2012 for sky charts and Jane Houston Jones' explanation of the stargazing targets that are on our StarGazing Shortlist. 

Read the May 2012 Guide to the Five Visible Planets by EarthSky for more details and sky charts. EarthSky is our stargazing partner and we feature their easy-to-read charts on our planner, Facebook, and Twitter. 

Enjoy Tonight's Sky: Highlights of the May Sky by the HubbleSite. 


Don't forget that June 5, 2012 is the Transit of Venus, when Venus will cross the Sun. You'll definitely want to celebrate this amazing event with some safe solar viewing with a Night Sky Network astronomy club. Here's an article on the Transit of Venus. This is a daytime event, so bring the family along.

Join our vibrant stargazing community!

We invite you to join the NASA Night Sky Network stargazing community on Facebook and Twitter for daily sky charts and lively conversation about all things planetary. 

Find star parties and solar viewings quickly using these apps or the website!

Get Go StarGaze, the NASA Night Sky Network astronomy app that helps you find astronomy clubs and their stargazing events on the go!




You can also find astronomy events and clubs in Distant Suns, your personal guide to the cosmos!





Clear skies and happy stargazing!


The NASA Night Sky Network is managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in cooperation with NASA.