Science / Medicine : Rare ‘Ring of Fire’ Solar Eclipse Due

A rare and spectacular annular eclipse will be visible from parts of Southern California at sunset on Jan. 4, 1992, and several local organizations are offering informative programs on the event.

The eclipse is being called a “ring of fire” eclipse due to the brilliant ring of sunlight that will be visible around the moon as it passes in front of the sun.

The sky will darken noticeably as the moon moves in front of the sun, covering more than 80% of the sun’s disk just before sunset. An annular sunset eclipse may occur in this area only once every 20,000 years, according to Edwin Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory. Krupp points out, however, that the next annular sunset eclipse will occur much sooner, in May, 1994--in Morocco.

Some of the local programs include:


* On Saturday, Krupp will lead a UCLA Extension class on the eclipse. “Following the Eclipse Path” will also cover general eclipse information. Call (310) 825-7093.

* Tuesday evening, Krupp will discuss the partial lunar eclipse in the early morning of Dec. 21, the winter solstice and answer questions about the annular eclipse at the Map Center in Santa Monica. Three programs are scheduled and advance registration is required. Call (310) 829-6277.

* The Santa Monica College Planetarium program will feature “Celestial Shadow Shows” on Friday and Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. , after the Night Sky Show at 7 p.m. Call (310) 452-9223.

* The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s astronomy program, “The Sunset Ring: the New Year’s Solar Eclipse,” will be presented Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 1:30, 2:15, 3 and 4, through Dec. 29. Call (805) 682-3224.


* The Griffith Observatory’s planetarium program from Dec. 30-Jan. 5, “Ring of Fire,” will focus on the Jan. 4 eclipse. Call (213) 664-1191.


Lloyd Kiff, leader of the California Condor Recovery Team, will discuss the return to the wild of the California condor at the Los Angeles Audubon Society meeting on Tuesday in Plummer Park. Call (213) 876-0202.



Participants in the fall/winter walking tours of Upper Newport Bay will get an introduction to the ecological value of estuaries and information on endangered species when the tours begin on Saturday. Two-hour tours will leave every 15 minutes, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Call (714) 786-8878.

Visitors can combine plant and bird identification and habitat restoration in a Sepulveda Dam Basin nature restoration walk sponsored by the California Native Plant Society on Saturday starting at 8 a.m. Call (213) 933-7136.

Visitors to the Palm Springs area can choose from a number of nature field trips offered by the Palm Springs Desert Museum. Call (619) 325-7186.