Astrophotography Blog: Baily’s Beads – Total Solar Eclipse April 8, 2024

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Baily’s Beads occur just before and just after totality of a solar eclipse. As the moon moves to cover the sun completely, the rugged lunar topography allows beads of sunlight to shine through in some places and not in others. These beads of light appear to flicker around the moon’s edges and are named after Francis Baily, who provided an explanation of the phenomenon in 1836.

This is beginning of Total Solar Eclipse visible from Westport, New York April 8, 2024.

Baily’s beards image sequence

Image sequence of Baily’s beads (diamond ring) at the second contact was captured with Canon Ra with an EF200mm f/2.8L II USM lens and a 2x III extender.  Camera was mounted on an iOptron SkyTracker and orchestrated by SET’n’C (Solar Eclipse Timer and Controller). The six exposures were all short at 1/1000, ISO 200 with camera drive set on continuous at 1 frame per second. 

The beauty of Baily’s Beads lies in their rarity. Solar eclipses themselves are rare events at any given location, and the Baily’s Beads effect is visible for only a few seconds during the partial phases of an eclipse.

The Baily’s Beads effect is a powerful reminder of the celestial mechanics at play. It highlights the perfect alignment of the Earth, Moon, and Sun, and showcases the irregular, rugged terrain of the Moon—factors that are both scientifically fascinating and visually captivating. The sequence of images not only serves as a document of a specific astronomical event but also as an artistic representation of the dynamic, ever-changing nature of our universe.

In essence, a sequence image of Baily’s Beads captivates by blending the precision of astronomy with the wonder of natural beauty. It freezes a moment of cosmic ballet, offering a glimpse into the sublime, ephemeral interplay of light and shadow, celestial bodies, and the laws of physics—a dance that, despite its brief appearance, leaves a lasting impression of the awe-inspiring universe we inhabit.

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