May 20, 2012 - an annular eclipse at The Wave

On May 20 a rare solar eclipse will be visible from The Wave. The eclipse will reach its maximum at about 6:34 PM Arizona time. More details for a few locations can be found in this table of eclipse times. The eclipse path and times for other SW locations can be found at this NASA site. Just click anywhere on the map to get the times in Universal Time (UT) at that location. Arizona time is seven hours earlier than UT. Solar eclipses are of four types:

Total The Moon totally covers the sun. This occurs when the moon is relatively close to the earth (The moons distance from the earth varies between 226,000 miles to 252,000 miles). The sun's corona is visible only during total eclipses and is worth photographing with a long lens (rule of thumb - at least 200mm, 2000 mm would be better!). The next total eclipse at The Wave doesn't occur until April 5, 2591.
Annular The moon appears to be inside the sun. The moon is relatively far from the earth so it doesn't quite cover the full sun, typically it might cover 95% of it. The sun appears as a bright orange ring around the moon when the eclipse is at its maximum. The corona is not visible and cannot be successfully photographed. You should include some foreground together with the moon in your images. The next annular eclipse at The Wave doesn't occur until October 9, 2238.
Hybrid eclipse In some parts of the world the eclipse will be total, and in some annular. Relatively rare.
Partial The moon only covers part of the sun. For example, the May 20 eclipse will be a partial eclipse in Phoenix but will be an annular eclipse when viewed from Page. The next partial eclipse at The Wave occurs on Oct. 14, 2014 when 40% of the Sun will be covered. A very good partial eclipse will occur on Oct. 14, 2023 when 89% will be covered.


The May 20 eclipse is an annular eclipse for much of the southwest, and a partial eclipse at other SW locations. The best path of the eclipse passes within a few hundred yards of Horseshoe Bend and within five miles of The Wave. Other locations on the annular path include the Bisti Badlands, Monument Valley and the Goosenecks, parts of Capitol Reef, the Grand Canyon, and Zion and Bryce Canyons. At annularity the moon will appear totally inside the sun at these locations but may be a bit off center except at The Wave and Horseshoe Bend which are very close to the best path.

At The Wave itself the sun will be below the cliffs to the west when the eclipse reaches its maximum and will not be visible. Shots of the partial eclipse should work from just above the Wave or the Second Wave. If you want pictures of the sun at maximum eclipse try to be on Top Rock. Top Rock Arch should work, or shoot from near or above The Alcove. Top Rock can be ascended in about ten minutes from the Second Wave. Be careful though, the rock is steep here and the drop long. If you don't have a permit for The Wave I suggest you try either Horseshoe Bend (include some people in the foreground in silhouette), The White Pocket, or Monument Valley. Monument Valley should be superb. I suggest you get to Monument Valley the day before and scout out some west facing locations at sunset. Shoot with as long a lens as possible to maximize the size of the sun.

Some photo and safety tips

Good luck and most of all enjoy - Annular eclipses at The Wave are a once in a lifetime experience.

This page was last updated 5/15/2012