Diamond Ring

January 24, 2003

Provided by: Geoff Sims
Summary authors & editors: Geoff Sims; Jim Foster


The total solar eclipse of December 4, 2002 could be viewed across a sliver of South Africa, the Indian Ocean and Australia. Perhaps the best views were from South Australia. The photo above, which was taken from near the town of Ceduna, South Australia, shows the phenomenon known as the Diamond Ring. When the Moon has just about covered the entire face of the Sun, a few seconds before totality occurs, the last rays of sunlight stream through deep lunar canyons and combine with the emerging ring of the inner corona, creating a brilliant diamond ring of light. The Diamond Ring is quickly extinguished as the Moon perfectly conceals the solar disk, heralding the beginning of totality, also referred to as the moment of second contact.

See also the Earth Science Picture of the Day for December 9 and 10, 2002

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