Solar eclipse, 1836.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
An early account of the phenomenon known as 'Bailys Beads' with illustrations showing stages of the annular eclipse observed on May 15th, 1836. Plate taken from 'The Illustrated London News'. The British astronomer, Francis Baily (1774-1844), gave an illustrated account of the bright spots of light surrounding the Moon, which were later named after him. The Moon does not have a perfectly smooth surface, so when it covers the Sun during an eclipse, the Sun's light can be seen pasing along valleys on the lunar surface. The short-lived effect, which resembles diamonds on a ring, occurs just before or after totality. The pictures showing a total eclipse are credited to be copies of the drawings made by the Astronomer Royal, George Biddell Airy.