Marie Drake Planetarium

Where the stars always shine in Juneau, Alaska

Total Solar Eclipses

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During a total eclipse of the Sun, the Moon covers the entire disk of the Sun

  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.

: Total solar eclipses occur when the New Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow, the umbra, on Earth. A full solar eclipse, known as totality, is almost as dark as night.

. In partial and annular solar eclipses, the Moon blocks only part of the Sun.