Sky watchers in parts of Asia and the western United States were treated to a rare astronomical spectacle on Sunday. An annular solar eclipse dimmed the Pacific skies and turned the sun into a flaming ring of fire. It was the first time in 18 years that an annular eclipse was visible in the continental U.S.
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Hikers watch the annular solar eclipse from Papago Park in Phoenix on Sunday, May 20, 2012.
Michael Chow/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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The 'ring of fire' is so named because, as the moon passes in front of the sun, it leaves only a golden ring around its edges. Here, the eclipse is seen north of Odessa, Texas.
Albert Cesare/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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The solar eclipse is pictured in Kanarraville, Utah.
Samantha Clemens/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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People watch the spectacle in the southwestern town of Kanarraville, Utah on May 20, 2012.
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The eclipse is visible through binoculars in Sacramento, California, on May 20, 2012.
Randy Pench/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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A partial solar eclipse sets behind a field on Sunday, May 20, 2012, southwest of Ellis, Kansas.
Steven Hausler/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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The eclipse is seen at sunrise on Monday, May 21, 2012, from the coastal township of Gumaca, southeast of Manila, Philippines.
Bullit Marquez/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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People observe the eclipse at the Taipei Astronomical Museum on May 21, 2012.
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What better time to do tai chi? A man practices the martial art beneath the solar eclipse at the Bund along the Huangpu River in Shanghai on May 21, 2012.
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A child looks at projections produced during the eclipse at Taipei Astronomical Museum May 21, 2012.