'Ring of Fire' Solar Eclipse Occurs Today: How to Watch
Skywatcher Joel Dykstra sent this photo of the solar eclipse taken on May 20, 2012. He writes: "Here are some eclipse pictures I took from my backyard in Roswell, NM with a Pentax K100 D digital SLR and some older manual telephoto lenses. I did not use any filters or special devices. These were taken between 6:45-7:30 mountain time."
Credit: Joel Dykstra

A solar eclipse will block out most of the sun today (May 9), leaving a potentially spectacular "ring of fire" in the sky that may be visible over parts of Australia and the Southern Pacific Ocean. But skywatching enthusiasts all around the world can still take part, as the entire event will be broadcast live online.

The online Slooh Space Camera, which has telescopes positioned around the globe, will be hosting a free live webcast of the so-called annular solar eclipse, according to SPACE.com. The broadcast will begin at 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT).

For observers in Australia, the eclipse will begin shortly after sunrise, where it will be Friday, May 10 local time.

"Because the moon is very nearly at a point farthest from Earth, known as apogee, it appears too small to fully cover the sun, leaving a thin ring of sunlight or 'annulus' — known as the 'Ring of Fire,'" Slooh officials said in a statement. [See Spectacular Photos of a 'Ring of Fire' Solar Eclipse]

Skywatchers in the Hawaiian Islands, the southern Philippines, eastern Indonesia, parts of Papua New Guinea and certain regions of New Zealand may see at least a partial eclipse, weather permitting. These locations are, however, outside of the path of annularity, according to SPACE.com.

Slooh's live video feed of the annular solar eclipse will feature views from an observatory in Australia, and will include commentary from eclipse experts, including Bob Berman, a contributing editor and monthly columnist for Astronomy Magazine.

Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, and casts a shadow over the planet. During today's annular solar eclipse, the moon is expected to cover roughly 95 percent of the sun.

"The precise line up, or syzygy, of the sun, moon and Earth have intrigued primitive cultures for millennia," Berman said in a statement. "Here are the two most important and influential celestial bodies, so far as life on Earth is concerned, and on that day we can actually watch their clockwork motions. We observe firsthand as the Moon orbits around us at 2,250 miles per hour, showing off its speed as it centrally crosses the disk of the sun. It's pretty dramatic."

To safely view or photograph a solar eclipse, it is important to use special camera and telescope filters. Protective eyewear should also be worn at all times.

WARNING: Never look directly at the sun during an eclipse with a telescope or your unaided eye. Severe eye damage can result and scientists use special filters to safely view the sun.

Editor's note: If you live in the observing area of today's solar eclipse and safely snap an amazing picture of the sun that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to Managing Editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.