PALM DESERT, Calif. -

Looking to the sun with "eclipse shades" on, dozens of people turned out to watch Sunday's "ring of fire" eclipse at the exotic estate of local philanthropists Gino and Lindi Biggi in Palm Desert. The best way skywatchers could describe their first glimpse was, "Like a crescent moon," said Melba Miller, of Indio.

Scientists call it an "annular" eclipse, as the sun is blocked by the moon and appears as a thin ring. The phenomenon last seen in the United States back in 1994. For many people, the solar event was one they couldn't miss.

"You don't always get to see it in this hemisphere so it's very special," said Miller.

The viewing party, sponsored by Pete Carlson was called "Jazz Eclipses the Sun." A jazz band, the Danny House Quartet, entertained the crowd during the eclipse. The event also helped raise funds for the organization Loving All Animals and the Boys and Girls Club Heatwave Jazz Band.

"The solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and it's important, so are the children and so are the animals," said Lindi Biggi.

The ring of fire was seen for only about four and half minutes in the west -- but left a lasting impression on many of the Palm Desert viewers.