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Partial and Total Solar Eclipses
The moon’s cone-shaped shadow has two parts, the penumbra and the umbra. The penumbra is the moon’s faint outer shadow and partial eclipses are visible from within the penumbral shadow. The umbra is the moon’s dark inner shadow and total solar eclipses are visible from within the umbral shadow. The track of the moon’s umbral shadow across Earth is called the Path of Totality, and it covers less than 1 percent of Earth’s surface area (typically 10,000 miles long and about 100 miles wide.)
A solar eclipse begins as a small notch slowly appears along one edge of the sun. During the next hour, the moon will gradually cover more and more of the sun’s bright disk. If the eclipse is a total solar eclipse, the last remaining minutes of the partial phases can be dramatic. The crescent of the sun grows thinner as the moon’s shadow approaches. The abrupt darkness of totality is stunning to view, and the solar corona is an awe-inspiring sight. The sun’s corona can only be seen during the few brief minutes of totality.