21/05/2012 07:13 BST | Updated 21/05/2012 07:17 BST

Annular Solar Eclipse Delights Over The Pacific: PHOTOS, VIDEO

Then sun shrank to a thin ring of fire on 21 May, during a magnificent annular solar eclipse.

The full eclipse was spotted over China, Japan and the Pacific coast of the US, including California and Nevada.

For Japan, it was the first time in 932 years that the country could see an annular eclipse.

National Geographic reports that it is also the first time an annular eclipse has been spotted on mainland USA since 1994, and will not be seen again until 2023.

An annular eclipse leaves the edge of the sun visible as a bright ring of fire around the moon.

Under the path of the eclipse, the day became night, and many observers used pinholes in card to watch the amazing event without damaging their eyes.

The eclipse may be fascinating to today's amateur astronomers, but according to the National Geographic, they were once considered bad omens and once caused an ancient Chinese astronomer to be beheaded.

Ciyuan Liu and Liping Ma, of the Chinese academy of sciences, and Xueshun Liu, of the University of British Columbia told the National Geographic: "When an eclipse occurred, the Emperor would normally eat vegetarian meals, avoid the main palace, perform rituals to rescue the Sun and, sometimes, issue imperial edict to take the blame on himself."

See more eclipse photos below.