5 Fun Facts About the Solar Eclipse

The first total solar eclipse over the continental US in almost 40 years will make its appearance later today. Although Atlanta isn’t in the path of totality, we’re still expecting a 97% partial eclipse. We can work with that. Here are some more fun facts to impress your friends and coworkers with as you wait for the eclipse to arrive.

1. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the sun and casts a shadow, called an umbra, on Earth. Only those in the path of totality with experience a total solar eclipse.

2. Solar eclipses can produce a phenomenon called “Bailey’s Beads,” where peaks and valleys on the surface of the Moon allow beads of light to shine through despite the Moon blocking the Sun.

3. The difference between a total eclipse and an annular eclipse is how far away the Moon is from the Earth. In a total eclipse, the Moon is close enough to the Earth to completely block out the Sun’s light. During an annular eclipse, the moon is farther away from the Earth, which makes it appear smaller and unable to block out the Sun entirely.

4. This is the first time a total eclipse has crossed the US from coast to coast since 1918, which means 14 states, including Georgia, are in the path of totality.

5. Because of the moon’s slowly increasing orbit, solar eclipses won’t be around forever. The moon will move far enough away from the Earth that it will no longer be big enough to completely block out the sun, but don’t worry that won’t happen for another 600 million years.