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What is a Total Solar Eclipse?

Date:2017-01-18 01:01

Types of Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipses happen during a New Moon, when the Moon moves between the Earth and the Sun

and the three celestial bodies form a straight line or almost a straight line: Earth-Moon-Sun.

There are 3 kinds of Solar Eclipses. There is also a rare hybrid that is a combination of two eclipse.


Total Solar Eclipse

Total Solar Eclipses occur when the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow (the Umbra) on Earth. The darkest point of the eclipse is almost as dark as night.


Annular Solar Eclipse

An Annular Solar Eclipses happens when the Moon covers the Sun’s centre, leaving the Sun’s visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” or annulus around the Moon.


Partial Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipses happens when the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth, but they don’t align in a perfectly straight line. Because of this, the Moon only partially covers the Sun’s disc.


Hybrid Solar Eclipse

A Hybrid Solar Eclipse is a rare form of Solar Eclipse, which changes

from an Annular to a Total Solar Eclipse along its path.


Not Total Everywhere

Eclipses are normally named after their darkest phase. If a solar eclipse is total at any point on Earth, it is called a total solar eclipse, even though it's seen as a partial solar eclipse in most areas.

However, there is an exception, the hybrid solar eclipse. This type of eclipse is also known as an annular-total eclipse because it changes from an annular to a total solar eclipse, and/or vice versa, along its path.


5 Phases

There are 5 stages in a total solar eclipse:

  1. Partial eclipse begins (1st contact:) The Moon starts becoming visible over the Sun's disk. The Sun looks as if a bite has been taken from it.
  2. Total eclipse begins (2nd contact:) The entire disk of the Sun is covered by the Moon. Observers in the path of the Moon's umbra may be able to see Baily's beads and the diamond ring effect, just before totality.
  3. Totality and maximum eclipse: The Moon completely covers the disk of the Sun. Only the Sun's corona is visible. This is the most dramatic stage of a total solar eclipse. At this time, the sky goes dark, temperatures can fall, and birds and animals often go quiet. The midpoint of time of totality is known as the maximum point of the eclipse. Observers in the path of the Moon's umbra may be able to see Baily's beads and the diamond ring effect, just after totality ends.
  4. Total eclipse ends (3rd contact:) The Moon starts moving away, and the Sun reappears.
  5. Partial eclipse ends (4th contact:) The Moon stops overlapping the Sun's disk. The eclipse ends at this stage in this location.

Unique Sights around Totality


Phenomena only visible near the totality.


Certain phenomena can only be seen during a total solar eclipse:


The phenomena then repeat in reverse order:

  1. Shadow bands: About 1 minute before totality, moving wavy lines of alternating light and dark can be seen on the ground and along walls. These shadow bands are the result of Earth’s turbulent atmosphere refracting the last rays of sunlight.
  2. Diamond ring: Around 15 seconds before totality, just as the Moon moves to cover the entire disk of the Sun, the Sun's corona first becomes visible as a dazzlingly bright jewel of sunlight along the edge of the Moon. The corona is the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, and it is around 200–300 times hotter than the Sun’s surface. The corona’s temperature can reach over 1 million °C (1.8 million °F).
  3. The Sun's corona: As the diamond ring fades, the Sun's corona becomes more prominent and is visible as a faint ring of rays surrounding the silhouetted Moon.
  4. Baily's beads: About 5 seconds before totality, Baily's beads appear. They are little bead-like blobs of light at the edge of the Moon. They are created because gaps in the mountains and valleys on the Moon's surface allow sunlight to pass through in some places but not others.
  5. The Sun's chromosphere: A lower layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, the chromosphere, gives out a reddish glow which can only be seen for a few seconds after totality sets in.
  6. Baily's beads: The beads grow and merge into a crescent as the Moon continues to move away.
  7. Diamond ring and corona: As the diamond ring grows brighter, the corona fades.
  8. Shadow bands: The moving wavy lines reappear on the ground shortly before the crescent Sun becomes visible again and nature recovers.

The Science of Total Solar Eclipses


The Sun, Moon, and Earth are aligned

Only those located in the path of the Moon's full shadow, its umbra, can see a total solar eclipse. The Moon's umbra travels eastward at about 1,700 km/h (1,056 mph).

A total solar eclipse can last for several hours. Totality can range from a few seconds to 7.5 minutes. The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century took place on July 22, 2009 when the totality lasted 6 minutes and 39 seconds.


Keywords for the information:solar eclipse total solar eclipse moon sun earth 


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