Sky-watchers in most of the Western Hemisphere were treated to a rare solar eclipse on November 3, and many captured picture-postcard views, particularly at sunrise.
The moon’s dark shadow appeared to eat away at the face of the sun on Sunday, November 3, giving lucky sky-watchers in most of equatorial Africa a view of a total eclipse. Those watching along the eastern coast of North America, northern South America, southern Europe, and the Middle East saw a stunning partial eclipse at sunrise.
Although the Earth crosses between the moon and the sun every month, a total solar eclipse occurs only when the three celestial bodies are perfectly aligned so that the moon casts its dark central shadow (called the umbra) onto a very narrow strip along the surface of the Earth.
Here are samples of some of the amazing snapshots that captured the breathtaking beauty of the eclipse.
In just over the course of 3.3 hours, the moon’s dark shadow touched down 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) east of Jacksonville, Florida, at sunrise. The path of the totality—where the entire solar disk is covered—then raced across the open north Atlantic Ocean and through central Africa, until the lunar shadow left the Earth’s surface in Somalia at local sunset. In total, the moon’s shadow traveled a path of some 8,450 miles (13,600 kilometers) across the globe.
“With the passage of a cold front the day before, the weather was perfect. The sun rose from the ocean and was distorted by the temperature difference between the air and the ocean,” said photographer Conrad Pope.
“I’ve seen many eclipses and many more sunrises, but none looked like this.”
The next solar eclipse will occur on April 29, 2014, when the moon’s shadow path will cross over Antarctica. A partial eclipse will be visible again from North America on October 29, 2014.