GCSE Physics

Total, partial & annular eclipses

Viewed from the Earth, a total eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun and appears to cover it completely.

During a total eclipse, the Sun's corona - its glowing outer atmosphere - becomes visible in the darkened sky.

A total eclipse of the Sun:

Total eclipse of the Sun
© Chris Terran. Used with permission.

A total eclipse can only been seen within a narrow "corridor" on the Earth's surface and only for a maximum of eight minutes as the Moon's shadow passes overhead at a speed of nearly 3000 km/h.

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