I remember going to the planetarium as a kid and learning about a solar eclipse.  The main things I remember is never, ever look directly into the sun and that they are pretty rare events.  When you have the chance, make sure you get out and watch it happen.  This Sunday, May 20th will be the first annular solar eclipse to be seen in the U.S. in almost 18 years. You won’t see it again until about 2023.  The eclipse will only be seen by a lucky few though. Being in West Texas makes Abilene some of those 6.6 million people lucky enough to be in the path of the eclipse. So here’s what you need to know to view this phenomenon.

What exactly is an annular solar eclipse, you might ask; it is when the moon covers most of the sun, only the outer edges of the sun can be seen. A “total” eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun and makes it almost appear to be night time. With the annular eclipse it will almost appear that the moon is on fire.

Now if you plan on viewing this eclipse remember: do NOT look at the sun with your naked eyes, it’s very dangerous. Your eyes will catch on fire and you will turn into ashes. Okay, it’s not that bad but it could cause serious, even permanent vision problems so just don’t do it.

To view the eclipse properly you can go simple and use some white paper a pin hole and your hands or you can make a more complex pinhole projector with foil, a long box, paper and a pin hole. To find out all the specifics on making a pinhole projector or using the “quick and easy” methods check out the solar eclipse guide to viewing at Exploratorium.

The eclipse should be visible here in Abilene at 7:32 p.m.  NASA has provided a list of major U.S. locations and times to see the eclipse. (By the way  hour “00″ on the chart is 7 pm central time.)

Here’s a little more information on the upcoming annular eclipse.