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  how does a solar eclipse occur?
  what's a solar eclipse like?
  Bailey's beads and crescent Suns
  annular solar eclipses
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  do we have to wait for an eclipse?
  total eclipses that changed the world
  what can we learn from eclipses?

Bailey's beads and crescent Suns

 

These photos show the effect known as Baily's Beads. You can see these just before or after totality.

 

Fred Espenak, NASA
 

Just as the Moon passes in front of the last part of the Sun's disk, the thin arc of light breaks into a series of bright points of light. This is because the surface of the Moon is not completely smooth; there are mountains, valleys and craters.

 

For a brief time, the Sun's light is blocked by the lunar mountains, but it is able to graze through the valleys producing small beads of light.

 

Baily's Beads are named after the British astronomer Francis Baily (1774 -1844).

 
 

Look at this photo I took during an eclipse.

 

Can you see the shadow of the tree on the car bonnet? If you look carefully you can see lots of small images of the Sun, all with a crescent shape. This is because the gaps in the leaves of the tree act as pinhole cameras. Each one focuses an image of the Sun onto the car. This is an easy and safe way to watch the solar eclipse progress.

     
   

 

   
 
 

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