lunar image of the month

june: annular eclipse

Every four weeks, the Moon's orbit, as seen from the Earth, takes it past the Sun. Usually it will pass a little to the north or the south, but roughly every six months it will move directly in between the Earth and Sun creating a solar eclipse. Sometimes these are partial (a "bite" is taken from the Sun), sometimes they are total (the Sun is completely hidden), and sometimes, when the Moon is further from the Earth and appears smaller, the eclipse will be annular. Such an eclipse will be visible from a path spanning the Pacific this month.

This image, taken in February 1999 shows an annular eclipse, where a ring (or annulus) of the Sun remains visible. Although they are less spectacular than total eclipses, it is still possible to see beads (the bright points of light showing through lunar valleys) and prominences (red tongues of solar material).

Photo courtesy of