Solar eclipses occur when a new moon passes directly between Earth and the sun. These eclipses are observable only within or near the path where the moon's shadow falls on Earth.
The type of eclipsetotal, partial, or annulardepends on the alignment and distances between the sun, moon, and Earth. The sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, is visible only during total solar eclipses. Eclipse sequences such as these can last nearly three hours, with totality lasting a maximum of 7.5 minutes.
! Click the image to see the animations. Use the movie controls to step through one frame at a time or replay the animations.