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The Huffington Post  |  By Posted:  |  Updated: 05/21/12 07:48 AM ET

Solar Eclipse 2012: How To See The May 20 Annular Eclipse (MAP, PHOTOS)

The first annular solar eclipse visible in the United States in nearly 18 years will occur on Sunday, May 20.

But before you buy tinted safety glasses or start making your pinhole projector (never look at the sun with the naked eye!), you should know: When it comes to viewing the solar eclipse in the US, only those lucky folks who are west of the Mississippi River will be able to see a partially-eclipsed sun, according to NASA.

SCROLL DOWN FOR ECLIPSE PATH AND TIMES IT CAN BE SEEN

In the United States, the path of annularity, or the path of the shadow, is only about 300 kilmoters (186 miles) wide and stretches from southern Oregon and northern California to western Texas, crossing parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. According to Space.com, about 6.6 million people live within the path.

NASA has a list of when and where the can be seen, even in those locations outside the path of annularity. Check out the map below and click the yellow pins to see when the eclipse will be visible in that location, and for even more locations, click over to NASA's comprehensive list. (Hint: Here's a UTC time conversion table.)

From the Los Angeles Times:

An annular eclipse is when the moon covers up most of the sun except for the sun's outer fringe, leaving visible a ring of fire, or "annulus," which is Latin for ring.

A total eclipse, by contrast, blocks so much sunlight that the ground is cast in an eerie midday twilight — a far more breathtaking experience.

If you are going to attempt to view the "ring of fire," be sure to follow these safe viewing directions from The Exploratorium. Attempting to look at the sun with the naked eye or an optical device, like a telescope or binoculars, can result in permanent eye damage.

If you're east of the Mississippi River, don't worry -- the Slooh Space Camera is broadcasting the event live, using telescope feeds from Japan, California, Arizona and New Mexico. Slooh's live feed begins at 5:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Finally, if you catch a glimpse of this fiery phenomenon, be sure to tweet your photos to @HuffPostScience with the hashtag #solareclipse. You can email us at science@huffingtonpost.com. We'll be collecting user photos from all over, and yours may be featured!

Path of annularity by Jay Anderson courtesy of the University of Manitoba.

solar eclipse 2012

Click on a yellow pin to find out what time the eclipse will be viewable in that location.

Solar Eclipse 2012: Submit Your Pictures

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  • The moon slides across the sun, showing a blazing halo of light, during an annular eclipse at a waterfront park in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early Monday. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

  • A partial annular eclipse takes place over Beijing, China, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early Monday. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

  • A dog looks back as a partial annular solareclipse takes place near the titanium dome of the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, China, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early Monday. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

  • Chinese youths, exercising outside the National Center for the Performing Arts, watch their friend run as a partial annular solar eclipse is seen over Beijing, China, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early Monday. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

  • People watch an annular solar eclipse at a waterfront park in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early Monday. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

  • The moon slides across the sun, showing a blazing halo of light, during an annular solar eclipse at a waterfront park in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early Monday. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

  • A South Korean astronomy student uses special sunglasses to observe an annular solar eclipse in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early Monday. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

  • A man walks on a street as a partial annular solar eclipse is seen over the sky in Beijing, China, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early Monday. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

  • A partial solar eclipse is seen from Tokyo on May 21, 2012 . For the first time in 932 years, a swathe of the country was able to see the annular solar eclipse, when the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking out all but an outer circle of light. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

  • An annular solar eclipse is seen behind a ferris wheel from Tokyo on May 21, 2012. For the first time in 932 years, a swathe of the country was able to see the annular solar eclipse, when the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking out all but an outer circle of light. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

  • The annular solar eclipse is seen from Fujinomiya city, Shizuoka prefecture, some 150-kilometres west of Tokyo, on May 21, 2012. A swathe of the country was be able to see the annular solar eclipse, when the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking out all but an outer circle of light. TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • An annular solar eclipse is seen from Tokyo on May 21, 2012 . For the first time in 932 years, a swathe of the country was able to see the annular solar eclipse, when the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking out all but an outer circle of light. YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/GettyImages

  • A partial solar eclipse as seen during sunrise in the coastal town of Gumaca, Quezon province, southeast of Manila on May 21, 2012. Thousands turned their eyes to the sky on both sides of the Pacific to gaze excitedly as a partial eclipse occluded the sun at dawn in Asia and at dusk in the western United States. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun, but is too far from the Earth to block it out completely, leaving a 'ring of fire' visible. TED ALJIBE/AFP/GettyImages

  • 7:38 PM MST Albuquerque, NM USA

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/SamInAlbuquerque"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100001421430200/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/SamInAlbuquerque">SamInAlbuquerque</a>:<br />May 20, 2012 Annular Eclipse

  • 2012 Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kelly_Ann_Grady-Hartmann"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1197105193/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kelly_Ann_Grady-Hartmann">Kelly Ann Grady-Hartmann</a>:<br />This photo was taken with my daughters digital camera. We placed a strip of VHS tape over the lens and snapped photos. It is exactly as taken except since the bottom had no tape and the same with the top, the bottom was nothing but bright white light, so I cropped the bottom off.

  • 2012 Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kelly_Ann_Grady-Hartmann"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1197105193/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kelly_Ann_Grady-Hartmann">Kelly Ann Grady-Hartmann</a>:<br />This photo was taken in El Cajon, CA and was done in black and white with a strip of VHS over the lens on a digital camera. There appears to be a sun spot, or flare to the left. but we are not sure, Lauren E. Akenson

  • Side of my house

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Shirley_Rogers_Prokosch"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1272193872/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Shirley_Rogers_Prokosch">Shirley Rogers Prokosch</a>:<br />Reflection on side of house

  • Eclipes 2012

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Zargod"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Zargod">Zargod</a>:<br />taken with an i-phone through a solar scope.

  • Oregon Solar Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Brianfallon_Rose"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100001211331862/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Brianfallon_Rose">Brianfallon Rose</a>:<br />solar eclipse taken in Oregon through a welding mask

  • Oregon Solar Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Brianfallon_Rose"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100001211331862/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Brianfallon_Rose">Brianfallon Rose</a>:<br />Oregon solar eclipse 2012

  • From the Centerline By Harvey Madison

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/cerulean99"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/cerulean99">cerulean99</a>:<br />Taken at Meadow, Texas

  • Solar Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Bobbie_Snelson_Place"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1269552004/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Bobbie_Snelson_Place">Bobbie Snelson Place</a>:<br />View of the Solar Eclipse from Amarillo, TX

  • From Meadow, Texas By Harvey Madison

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/cerulean99"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/cerulean99">cerulean99</a>:<br />

  • eclispe

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/deloresc21agent"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/deloresc21agent">deloresc21agent</a>:<br />Taken today in Cali!

  • Las Vegas Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/imalifesaverchic"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/aol_profile_img/3283113.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/imalifesaverchic">imalifesaverchic</a>:<br />From our house in Las Vegas

  • Ring of Fire Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/BBrite"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/BBrite">BBrite</a>:<br />This Photo was taken in Forsan, Tx. I was not at an optimal viewing area. Still it was a joy to be part of.

  • Solar Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/keeley1480"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/keeley1480">keeley1480</a>:<br />Taken from Playa Vista, CA

  • From Osaka @7:29am

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/dcmariani"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/617145738/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/dcmariani">dcmariani</a>:<br />This is the actual eclipse seen with the naked eye. The Sun looks full however the eclipse in the picture is a reflection on my camera's lens.

  • Carlsbad, California Solar Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MrArturoNavarro"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/508562657/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MrArturoNavarro">MrArturoNavarro</a>:<br />Solar Eclipse 2012

  • Solar Eclipse

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MrArturoNavarro"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/508562657/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MrArturoNavarro">MrArturoNavarro</a>:<br />Carlsbad, Californa

  • Solar Eclipse 2012

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MrArturoNavarro"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/508562657/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MrArturoNavarro">MrArturoNavarro</a>:<br />Carlsbad, California

  • Solar Eclipse 2012

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MrArturoNavarro"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/508562657/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MrArturoNavarro">MrArturoNavarro</a>:<br />Carlsbad, California

  • Ring of Fire

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Vani_Bahl"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/761403572/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Vani_Bahl">Vani Bahl</a>:<br />Ring of Fire

  • Miirror, mirror on the wall

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mendiam"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mendiam">mendiam</a>:<br />Dozens of eclipses reflecting on downtown Phoenix building from mirrored windows across the street.

  • annular eclipse sunset over lake travis

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jack_Thielepape"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1346104161/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jack_Thielepape">Jack Thielepape</a>:<br />The annular eclipse of the sun during sunset over Lake Travis west of Austin, Texas on May 20, 2012.

  • The Eclipse on Film

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Mark_Glick"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/806116508/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Mark_Glick">Mark Glick</a>:<br />The eclipsed sun sets over Hollywood.

  • Solar eclipse sunset in Phoenix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Heather_Lauer"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1413402/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Heather_Lauer">Heather Lauer</a>:<br />

  • Taken in Albuquerque by Kelly Vickers

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/KellyVickers"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/979456-tiny.png?20100412083816" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/KellyVickers">KellyVickers</a>:<br />I used five lens filters: 2 UV, 2 Polarizing, and a red. No change was made on the computer except cropping to the image. Copyright Kelly Vickers 2012

  • As the sun was setting, in Flint MI

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jenn_May"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/707506465/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jenn_May">Jenn May</a>:<br />

  • West Texas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/harleygirl074"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/harleygirl074">harleygirl074</a>:<br />Taken from the Odessa American Facebook page. West Texas Solar Eclipse.

  • EACLIPS

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/KARENKIRK"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/KARENKIRK">KARENKIRK</a>:<br />

  • Eclipse seen through filter

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/squirerhi"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/squirerhi">squirerhi</a>:<br />I took this image with a 8.1 Megapixel Kodak digital camera, placing a pair of solar eclipse sunglasses over the lens to filter the image.

  • utah annular eclipse...my pic! beautiful

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Billie_Carter"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100002495462780/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Billie_Carter">Billie Carter</a>:<br />do you see what i see? we had a universal overseer!

  • Reflection

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jenn_May"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/707506465/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jenn_May">Jenn May</a>:<br />Taken during the start of the eclipse, off the reflection of an office building window in Flint Michigan

  • Solar Eclipse - May 20, 2012

    Solar Eclipse - View from Redondo Beach, CA.

  • Solar Eclipse - 'PURPLE HAZE'

    view from Redondo Beach, CA.

  • Reflection in the sky of the eclipse.

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Arlene_Garcia"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Arlene_Garcia">Arlene Garcia</a>:<br />Taken in Los Lunas, NM on May 20, 2012.

  • reflection of eclipse on wall. Phoenix AZ

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/zjjjvc"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/zjjjvc">zjjjvc</a>:<br />

  • eclipse over albuquerque volcanos

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Gali_Laer"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1561728546/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Gali_Laer">Gali Laer</a>:<br />

  • Anualar ring from albuquerque

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Gali_Laer"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1561728546/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Gali_Laer">Gali Laer</a>:<br />

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