Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2005 October 5
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Annular Solar Eclipse at High Resolution
Credit & Copyright: Stefan Seip

Explanation: On Monday, part of the Sun went missing. The missing piece was no cause for concern -- the Moon was only momentarily in the way. The event was not a total eclipse of the Sun for any Earth-bound sky enthusiast but rather, at best, an annular eclipse, where the Moon blocked most of the Sun. Because of the relatively large distance to the Moon during this Earth-Moon-Sun alignment, the Moon did not have a large enough angular size to block the entire Sun. Those who witnessed the solar eclipse from a narrow path through Portugal, Spain and Africa, however, were lucky enough to see the coveted Ring of Fire, a dark Moon completely surrounded by the brilliant light of the distant Sun. Pictured above is a Ring of Fire captured two days ago in unusually high resolution above Spain. The resulting image shows details of the granular solar surface as well as many prominences around the Sun.

Tomorrow's picture: cosmic eye

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