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.

2012 December 10

Time-Lapse: A Total Solar Eclipse
Video Credit & Copyright: Colin Legg

Explanation: Have you ever experienced a total eclipse of the Sun? The above time-lapse movie depicts such an eclipse in dramatic detail as visible from Australia last month. As the video begins, a slight dimming of the Sun and the surrounding Earth is barely perceptible. Suddenly, as the Moon moves to cover nearly the entire Sun, darkness sweeps in from the left -- the fully blocked part of the Sun. At totality, only the bright solar corona extends past the edges of the Moon, and darkness surrounds you. Distant horizons are still bright, though, as they are not in the darkest part of the shadow. At mid-totality the darkness dips to the horizon below the eclipsed Sun, created by the shadow cone -- a corridor of shadow that traces back to the Moon. As the total solar eclipse ends -- usually after a few minutes -- the process reverses and Moon's shadow moves off to the other side. Solar eclipses can frequently be experienced at gatherings organized along the narrow eclipse path as well as specialized cruises and plane flights.

Tomorrow's picture: giant nursery

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