• Apart from today's Melbourne Cup, another reason for jetsetters, kibitzers, stargazers and what nots to pack their bags and travel to Australia is the highly-anticipated total solar eclipse on November 14, an hour after sunrise (afternoon of Tuesday, November 13, in the United States).Reuters
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  • An annular solar eclipse is seen from a rooftop of the Roppongi Hills complex in TokyoReuters
  • A helicopter flies past the solar eclipse near PaysonReuters
  • The moon passes between the sun and the earth during a solar eclipse seen from PasadenaReuters
  • 2013 Solar Eclipse: When and Where to Watch in Australia.Reuters
  • The moon passes between the sun and the earth during a solar eclipse seen from PasadenaReuters

Millions of viewers in Asia and North America witnessed a rare astronomical phenomenon of annular solar eclipse on Sunday and early Monday.

Sky-gazers saw a brief view of a dazzling golden loop, which looked like a "ring of fire," circling the moon in the night sky. The annular eclipse occurred as the moon and the sun came in a line over the Earth.

It was visible in parts of China early on Monday before moving westwards across Taiwan and Japan.

Later, it moved across certain western parts of United States, making it visible over northern California and southern Oregon for the first time since 1994.

Scores of onlookers in Asian countries like Japan, China and Taiwan witnessed the spectacular view. However, spectators in Hong Kong were unlucky as thick clouds covered the sky and obstructed the view.

In Tokyo, as many as 30 million people saw the first glimpse of the phenomenon in 173 years.

Japan's major Television channels telecasted the live coverage of the rare event. Also, several "Eclipse tours" were held for school students and the general public.

In the US, the eclipse was also viewed in Reno, Nevada and Oakland. According to a BBC report, hundreds of people travelled to the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico that was hailed as one of the best vantage points.

"It was a very mysterious sight - I've never seen anything like it," BBC quoted Kaori Sasaki, who joined a crowd in central Tokyo, as saying.

"It's like moving your fist in front of your eyes," Jeffrey Newmark, a NASA Space Scientist told Reuters. "You can block out the view of a whole mountain. It's the same kind of effect."

He said that the next solar eclipse will not occur until 2023 as it requires a particular set of orbital dynamics.

Methodically, a partial and annular solar eclipse occurs when the sun and the moon coincide exactly in a line and the actual size of the moon is smaller than that of the sun.

Check out the breathtaking images of annular solar eclipse in the slideshow.