People throughout Southern California gathered individually and in groups Sunday to take in the enthralling view of a late afternoon 85-percent eclipse of the sun.
The annular eclipse started at 5:24 p.m. and ended at 7:42 p.m., according to Griffith Observatory officials. During an annular eclipse, the moon does not block the entirety of the sun, but leaves a bright ring of light visible at the edges. In Sunday's eclipse, the moon was at the furthest distance from Earth that it ever achieves -- meaning that it blocked the smallest possible portion of the sun, leaving the largest possible bright ring around the outside.
It was the first annular eclipse visible in the U.S. in nearly 18 years, according to NASA, and National Geographic reports that it will be more than 10 years before another annular eclipse is visible from the mainland U.S.
A throng of eclipse-watchers congregated on the grounds of Griffith Observatory, where telescopes were set up and staff members offered commentary on the rare event. Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the coasts to get a glimpse of the eclipse.
"We depend on the sun to be there the same way every day, so when something happens to disrupt the sun and it gets blacked out, it's kind of freaky," observatory curator Laura Danly said.
Long ago, before science explained such events, eclipses were unsettling occurrences to people who viewed them.
"For people who didn't know what it was, it was frightening," Danly said.
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