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Eclipse 2024: 5 of the best pictures of the total solar eclipse

The total solar eclipse that passed across North America on 8 April drew millions out to the path of totality – the thin strip of land across which the moon’s silhouette blocked out the entire disc of the sun. Even more gawked at the partial eclipse visible across most of the continent. Here are five of New Scientist’s favourite images from 2024’s total eclipse.

On the right side of this image, which was taken in Kerrville, Texas, you can see the edge of the moon just beginning to encroach on the sun. Closer to the centre and left side of the sun are a pair of sunspots – dim areas where the surface of the sun is unusually cool.

This picture, also taken in Kerrville, Texas, shows a phenomenon called Baily’s Beads. Just before and after complete totality, the topography of the moon allows small beams of sunlight to peek around its edges, creating bright spots on the edge of the moon’s silhouette.

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This image was taken by the GOES-East satellite, which observes Earth from space for weather monitoring and forecasting. The moon’s shadow swept across Mexico and the US during the eclipse, creating a pool of twilight-like darkness at its centre and partial eclipses at its edges.

During totality, pictured here from Indianapolis, Indiana, several prominences were visible on the edges of the sun. These are areas where the sun’s complex magnetic field shapes hot plasma into bright loops and flares that burst off the sun’s surface, and they are easiest to observe when the disc of the sun is blocked by the moon.

For scientists, the main importance of a total solar eclipse is that it provides a unique opportunity to view the sun’s diaphanous outer layer, the corona. When the disc of the sun is not blocked, it far outshines the corona, so an eclipse is the perfect time to study this mysterious sheet of plasma, shown here during totality in Dallas, Texas.

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