Eclipses

Have you ever seen a total solar eclipse? If the question caused you to search your memory, the correct answer would have been “no.” A common response is: “Yes--I saw one, it was about 90% partial eclipse where I lived.” A 90% partial eclipse is indeed a remarkable phenomenon, but true totality leaves all else in the shade, in all senses of the phrase. Ask the question of anyone who has experienced the full sensation of being obliterated by the moon's shadow, and they will reply “yes”--without hesitation--and continue with a monologue describing the overwhelming experiences and unique phenomena that ensued. On 21 August 2017 millions of people across the United States witnessed “The Great American Eclipse” of the Sun. The moment it was over, people around the world were asking questions: what caused the weird shadows and colors in the build up to totality? Were those ephemeral bands of shadows gliding across the ground in the seconds before totality real or an optical illusion? Eclipses: What Everyone Needs to Know is a popular source of information on the physics of eclipses.

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