Mountains of the moon increased during the eclipse of the ring of fire

Ring of Fire Eclipse Mountains of the Moon

Credit: Wang Letian

What are those dark streaks in this composite image from yesterday’s solar eclipse? They are inverted shadows of mountains on the edge of the Moon.

The central image, captured from Xiamen, China, has the center of the Moon directly in front of the center of the Sun. However, the Moon was too far from Earth to completely block the entire Sun. The light flowing around all of the edges of the moon is called a ring of fire.

The images at each end of the sequence show the sunlight streaming through the lunar valleys. As the Moon moved farther in front of the Sun, from left to right, only the highest peaks on the Moon’s perimeter could block sunlight. Therefore, dark streaks are cast, distorted, inverted, and magnified shadows of mountains on the edge of the Moon.

The bright areas are called Bailey’s beads. Only a narrow strip in Earth’s eastern hemisphere could see yesterday’s complete annular solar eclipse. However, next June, a narrow strip in the Earth’s northern hemisphere will see the next annular solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse will be visible at the bottom of the world near the end of this year.