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  • Mona Evans

    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”

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Spectacular ‘Ring of Fire’ Solar Eclipse Wows Millions Skywatchers by the millions looked up Sunday (May 20) when the moon hid most of the sun in a rare solar eclipse that created a dazzling “ring of fire” that was visible from Asia to the United States. An estimated 6.6 million Americans, alone, lived along the U.S. path of the solar eclipse, with millions more soaking in the sight from across southern China and Japan. While spectators along a narrow track saw the moon block out up to 94

Diamond and Rubies - Many features of the Sun only become apparent during a total eclipse. This is a photograph taken at the moment when a tiny part of the Sun’s disc shines out between the mountains on the edge of the Moon, creating an effect known as the ‘diamond ring’. We see the Sun’s corona as a diffuse white haze, and closer in, the Sun’s chromosphere appears in the red light of hydrogen. Photo by by Tunç Tezel, Turkey.

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

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.

What makes the moon turn dark and red? How Lunar Eclipses Work (Infographic)

When the moon covers up the sun, skywatchers delight in the opportunity to see a rare spectacle.