NASA gave people a front row seat to today’s total solar eclipse, thanks to a partnership with the University of California at Berkeley and the Exploratorium. A streaming webcast brought the eclipse — visible along a path from South America to Africa to Asia — to schools and museums and computer desktops worldwide.
The eclipse coverage was part of Sun-Earth Day, celebrated every year to help everyone better understand how our sun interacts with the Earth and other planets in the solar system. This year’s theme, "Eclipse: In a Different Light" shows how eclipses have inspired people to observe and understand the Sun-Earth-Moon system.
For astronaut Jeff Williams, set to launch to the International Space Station tonight, the eclipse is "an example of what has fascinated people throughout history and has inspired people for discovery and exploration, to understand why things like that happen."
A total solar eclipse is very rare because all parts of this puzzle must line up correctly in order for it to occur. The moon must be in its new phase for a solar eclipse to take place. The moon’s shadow has two parts—a central region called the umbra and an outer region called the penumbra. The part of the moon’s shadow which passes over you determines what kind of eclipse you will see.