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Total Solar Eclipse
Protect Your Eyes!
Never look directly at the Sun, eclipsed or otherwise, without proper protective eyewear. The Sun's UV radiation can burn the retinas in your eyes, and cause permanent damage or even blindness.
Unique Sights at Totality
Certain phenomena can only be seen during a total solar eclipse:
Baily's beads: Seen about 10 or 15 seconds before and after totality, Baily's beads are little bead-like blobs of light at the edge of the Moon. These happen because the gaps in the mountains and valleys on the Moon's surface allow sunlight to pass through in some places but not others.
Diamond ring: As the Moon moves to cover the entire disk of the Sun, Baily's beads disappear, leaving 1 last bead a few seconds before totality. At this point in the eclipse, the Sun's corona forms a ring around the Moon. The ring around the Moon and the leftover Baily's bead give the appearance of a diamond ring.
The Sun's chromosphere: The Sun's atmosphere has 3 layers: the photosphere, the chromosphere, and the corona. The chromosphere, which gives out a reddish glow can only be seen for a few seconds right after the diamond ring disappears during a total eclipse of the Sun.
The Sun's corona: Like the chromosphere, the Sun's corona is only visible during a total solar eclipse. It can be seen as a faint ring of rays surrounding the silhouetted Moon during totality.
Shadow bands: About 1 minute before and after totality, moving wavy lines of alternating light and dark can be seen on plain-colored surfaces. These shadow bands are the result of the light emitted from a thin solar crescent being refracted by Earth's atmosphere.
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.