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"Ring of Fire" eclipse this Sunday

11:44 AM, May 17, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) - When the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun in the right way, a solar eclipse happens. There are four different types of solar eclipses. The most recognizable is the total eclipse, where the moon completely blocks out the sun, leaving only the spectacular solar corona visible. A partial eclipse occurs when the sun is only somewhat obscured by the moon, which can often be seen alongside total eclipses. The annular eclipse, which is what we'll see on May 20, happens when the moon appears slightly smaller than the Sun. A hybrid eclipse is when the eclipse flips between a total eclipse and an annular eclipse.

Throughout the late afternoon on Sunday, May 20, you'll be able to see the moon pass in front of the Sun to various degrees, depending on where you live in the country. Unfortunately for those of you on the east coast, you won't be able to see anything. On the west coast, however, you'll get a truly amazing view.

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If you can see it from the best vantage point possible (check out this NASA map to figure out if you're lucky enough), the annular eclipse will peak when the Sun forms just a small ring around the moon. The last time a total or annular solar eclipse happened across the United States was in 1994, so get ready to watch this amazing event!

Be sure you're watching the solar eclipse safely. If you look directly at it, you risk permanent eye damage. Check out some tips on how to view a solar eclipse, or grab a pair of specialized eclipse glasses.

This story originally appeared on Tecca.

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