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Associated Press photos
Views of this annular solar eclipse stretched from California to Texas for the first time in 18 years.

Annular eclipse draws eyes to sky

School students watch an annular solar eclipse on their school playground in Kaizuka, Osaka, western Japan.

– Millions of people across 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 bright ring around its edges, was seen in the western U.S. late Sunday afternoon and in Asia early today.

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.

Viewing parties were held in Reno, Nev., Oakland, Calif. and elsewhere.

People from neighboring states and Canada traveled to Albuquerque, N.M., to enjoy the best vantage points. Members of the crowd cheered and children yelled with excitement as the moon crossed the sun and the blazing halo of light began to form.

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.

The eclipse was broadcast live on TV in Tokyo, where such an eclipse had not been visible since 1839.

The eclipse followed a narrow 8,500-mile path for 3 1/2 hours. The ring phenomenon lasted about five minutes.