BERKELEY (CBS 5) – Bay Area sky watchers are in for a rare treat this weekend. After almost two decades, a “ring of fire” eclipse will be visible in the continental United States.

At 6:32 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, the moon will pass in front of the sun, creating the solar eclipse above much of the West Coast.

“It’s going to looks strange and it’s going to block out somewhere about eighty five to ninety percent of the Sun,” said Jonathan Braidman of the Chabot Space & Science Center.

For 3 ½ hours, the eclipse follows an 8,500-mile path. Viewing, from beginning to end, lasts about two hours. The ring phenomenon lasts as long as 5 minutes depending on location.

Scientists warn viewers not to look directly at the eclipse because the brightness can damage the eyes. The best way to watch the event is through a welder’s lens. Unfortunately, many local shops are already sold out.

In his video report, Don Ford looks at some affordable options to safely witness the ring of fire.

Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley is offering a special event Sunday afternoon.

“So the first five hundred people who come to our eclipse event will get a pair of Sun Shades which you can put on and safely view the Sun with,” said Lauren Frieyand of the Lawrence Hall of Science.

The next such event won’t happen for another 11 years.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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