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Baily's beads during a total solar eclipse. The irregular landscape of the Moon means that its edge isn't perfectly smooth as it passes in front of the sun. It looks as if there are beads of bright sunlight coming through valleys and between mountains. They're named in honor of British astronomer Francis Baily who wrote an extensive account of them. ©Mona Evans, “Solar Eclipses” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28395.asp

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Solar Eclipse Turns Sun Into 'Ring of Fire' This Week

Beautiful Ring of Fire, 2012 Solar Eclipse.

Solar corona, 2012 eclipse in Australia. A composite image, "typical of solar maximum, very intricate and chaotic structure", taken by Francisco Diego. ©Mona Evans, “Solar Eclipses” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28395.asp

Partial Solar Eclipse. (2013-10-23) (Credit: Jeremy Perez Flagstaff, Arizona, USA) This is a splendid photo of the eclipse. Mona Evans, “Solar Eclipses” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28395.asp

Hybrid solar eclipse 2013-11-03. A montage of images of the total eclipse seen from Gulu, Uganda. (Credit: Balraj Chauhan) Mona Evans, “Solar Eclipses” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28395.asp

Tanzanian children try out their eclipse glasses in anticipation of the total eclipse on 2013-11-03. Telescopes to Tanzania is supported by Astronomers without Borders and is an initiative to bring astronomy to those involved in education in Tanzania. (Credit: Chuck Ruehle / Telescopes to Tanzania / Astronomers Without Borders) Mona Evans, "Solar Eclipses" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28395.asp

Solar eclipse, Cairns, Australia 2012. The eclipsed Sun reappearing and peeking through the clouds. (Photo: Bob Winter) ©Mona Evans, “Solar Eclipses” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28395.asp

Partial solar eclipse projected through leaves and insert of eclipse seen at Udumalpet, India in January 2010. It's the same principle as viewing using a pinhole in a piece of card or a pinhole camera. Here the light is filtered through small gaps between the leaves. The car is an unusual screen. (Photo: Sivakumar V K) ©Mona Evans, “Solar Eclipses” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28395.asp

Diamond ring effect. The Moon's surface isn't smooth and just before totality in an eclipse the last bit of sunlight shines through the lunar valleys. ©Mona Evans, “Solar Eclipses” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28395.asp

Phases of the Moon. 1. new moon 2. waxing crescent 3. first quarter 4. waxing gibbous 5. full moon 6. waning gibbous 7. third quarter 8. waning crescent A solar eclipse can only occur at the time of the new moon when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun. ©Mona Evans, “Solar Eclipses” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28395.asp

A total eclipse of the sun coincides with the 2015 vernal equinox. "How rare is a total solar eclipse on the vernal equinox? Well, the last total solar eclipse on the March equinox occurred back in 1662 on March 20th. There was also a hybrid eclipse — an eclipse which was annular along a portion of the track, and total along another — on March 20th, 1681. But you won’t have to wait that long for the next, as another eclipse falls on the northward equinox on March 20th, 2034."

Skywatcher David M. captured this view of crescent shadows cast on a robin by the annular solar eclipse of May 20, 2012 from Denver, Colo.

About a year and a half back in September 2010, this picture bagged top honors at the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition in the under-16 category. The photograph will now make it to an official annual book on the competition held by the Royal Observatory of Greenwich, UK.

The solar eclipse on Friday, March 20, 2015, photographed at 14,000 meters. Credit and copyright: Guillaume Cannat.

Baily's beads during a total solar eclipse. The irregular landscape of the Moon means that its edge isn't perfectly smooth as it passes in front of the sun. It looks as if there are beads of bright sunlight coming through valleys and between mountains. They're named in honor of British astronomer Francis Baily who first explained them.

This isn't your average picture of the May 20, 2012 solar eclipse... it was taken from a balloon at 90,000 feet! A filter half-covered the lens, so the left side shows the Earth and the right the eclipsed Sun.

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