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.

2008 August 18
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Baily's Beads near Solar Eclipse Totality
Credit & Copyright: Leonid Durman

Explanation: Just before the Sun blacks out, something strange occurs. As the Moon moves to completely cover the Sun in a total solar eclipse, beads of bright sunlight stream around the edge of the Moon. This effect, known as Baily's beads, is named after Francis Baily who called attention to the phenomenon in 1836. Although, the number and brightness of Baily's beads used to be unpredictable, today the Moon is so well mapped that general features regarding Baily's beads are expected. When a single bead dominates, it is called the diamond ring effect, and is typically seen just before totality. Pictured above, a series of images recorded Baily's beads at times surrounding the recent total solar eclipse visible from Novosibirsk, Russia. The complete series can be seen by scrolling right. At the end of totality, as the Sun again emerges from behind the moon, Baily's beads may again be visible -- but now on the other side of the Moon.

Tomorrow's picture: gas broom

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.