Celestial Diamond Ring

It’s cold and snowy with a stiff wind in Longyearbyen, Svalbard today, so it’s a good day to be indoors and in front of Photoshop, albeit on a tiny 13-inch MacBook screen.

Here we have another iteration of the ‘diamond ring’ from Friday’s total solar eclipse. The more technical term is ‘third contact.’ First contact is when the moon first touches the sun, second contact is when totality begins, third contact is when the moon begins to move from in front of the sun and fourth contact is when the moon finally leaves the sun’s disc entirely.

The time between first and fourth contacts on the Adventdalen plain at Svalbard Friday was two hours and about half a minute, but all the action took place in the two minutes twenty seven seconds between 11:10:42 and 11:13:10, the time between second and third contacts. That’s called ‘totality.’

The moon moved across the sun from lower right to upper left as you watched, and this photo shows third contact, the moment the moon began to move away from the sun’s disk to the upper left, resulting in the bulge of sunlight known as the diamond ring. Note also the solar prominence visible just above nine o’clock.


The next big event is the 9 March, 2016 total eclipse, mostly visible across Indonesia.

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