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Published May 20, 2012, 10:52 PM

VIDEO, GALLERY: Millions View 'Ring of Fire' Eclipse

(AP) - Millions of early risers in Asia turned their attention skyward to view a rare "ring of fire" eclipse as it crossed their skies Monday morning.

By: Associated Press,

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Millions in 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 visible to wide areas across Asia early Monday. It then moved across the Pacific and was also seen in parts of the western United States Sunday afternoon.

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

People from Colorado, Oklahoma and as far away as Canada traveled to Albuquerque to enjoy one of the best vantage points.

Members of the crowd smiled and cheered and children yelled with excitement as the moon crossed the sun and the blazing halo of light began to form. Eventually, the moon centered and covered 96 percent of the sun.

"That's got to be the prettiest thing I've ever seen," said Brent Veltri of Salida, Colo.

Albuquerque city officials had urged residents to go to organized events or watch one of the many live webcasts to avoid damaging their eyes.

The eclipse cannot be viewed with the naked eye or even sunglasses. And solar glasses, which make the sun look like a huge orange disc, are a rare commodity in communities along the eclipse's path.

In Japan, "eclipse tours" were arranged at schools and parks, on pleasure boats and even private airplanes. Similar events were held in China and Taiwan as well, with skywatchers warned to protect their eyes.

The eclipse was broadcast live on TV in Tokyo, where such an eclipse hasn't been visible since 1839. Japanese TV crews watched from the top of Mount Fuji and even staked out a zoo south of Tokyo to capture the reaction of the chimpanzees — who didn't seem to notice.

See the gallery here


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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