Phases of a Total Solar Eclipse

There are five stages in a total solar eclipse:​

  1. Partial eclipse begins (1st contact): The Moon becomes visible over the Sun's disk. It looks like the Moon has taken a bite out of the Sun.

  2. Total eclipse begins (2nd contact): The Moon covers the entire disk of the Sun. Observers in the Moon's umbral path may be able to see the diamond ring effect and Baily's beads 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.

  4. Total eclipse ends (3rd contact): The Moon starts moving away, and the Sun reappears. Those fortunate enough to be in the Moon's umbral can see Baily's beads and the diamond ring effect just after totality ends.

  5. Partial eclipse ends (4th contact): The eclipse ends as the Moon leaves the Sun's disk.

Astro Trails current eclipse projects can be viewed here

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