During a total eclipse of the Sun, the Moon
covers the entire disk of the Sun
- 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.
- 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.
- Totality and maximum eclipse: The Moon completely covers the disk of the Sun. Only the
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.
- Total eclipse ends (3rd contact): The Moon starts moving away, and the Sun
- 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
solar eclipses, the Moon blocks only part of the Sun.