Baily's Beads, Total Solar Eclipse, 21 August 2017

Baily's Beads, Total Solar Eclipse, 21 August 2017

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Credit: Gerard Lodriguss/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: As the eastern edge of the Sun is finally covered by the Moon, the last bits of sunlight shine through valleys between mountains on the limb of the Moon, causing tiny dots of sunlight called Baily's Beads, named after English Astronomer Francis Baily, who first described them during the 1836 total solar eclipse. When the last Baily's bead disappears the full splendour of the totality is revealed. The red layer is the Sun's chromosphere, the middle layer of the Sun's atmosphere. It is a thin 1,200-mile thick layer sandwiched above the Sun's photosphere and below the corona. Chromosphere literally means sphere of colour. Prominences arise out of the chromosphere when hot jets of super-heated gas shoot out due to the explosive release of the magnetic energy of the Sun. The prominences and chromosphere will only be visible for about 6 seconds at the start and end of totality.

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