While the recent eclipse has come and gone, one of its after effects is still with us: a wave of renewed interest in what’s happening in our sky. The people who bought fancy eclipse glasses or crafted homemade pinhole cameras are still out there, hungry for knowledge about a universe that isn’t as familiar as they might have thought.
This isn’t entirely new. People have been looking up at the sky in fascination for thousands of years, trying to find their place in the world beyond our world. But in an age when light pollution makes it difficult to see the wonders of the night sky and the 9-5 grind can prevent people from going out during the day, sometimes it takes an eclipse to remind us of what was there all along.
So if you’re one of those amateur astronomers still fascinated by what happened during the eclipse, here are nine very cool phenomena that you may have missed!
1. CRESCENT SHADOWS: If you were lucky enough to have a “pinhole camera” during the eclipse, you would have seen that the light coming through the “hole” of the camera formed a crescent instead of a dot during the moments where the sun was partially eclipsed.
But this isn’t just true of human-made devices; the light coming through any small gap, like between the leaves in a tree’s shadow, form the same patterns. This phenomenon allowed people to take truly amazing photos during the eclipse.
2. DEW DEPOSITS: Folk mythologies across the globe have long told of the dew that sometimes forms during an eclipse. In Transylvania, it was thought to be poisonous, infecting people, food, and clothing, and the Inuit people of Alaska would turn plates and buckets upside down to prevent it from accumulating.
The real explanation is almost as cool: Because the temperature sometimes drops during the eclipse, dew can form on the ground, just as it does during the night!
3. STARRY DAY: During a total eclipse, the sky goes almost as dark as it does during the night, allowing you to see stars and planets in the middle of the day. That is if you can tear your eyes off the eclipse itself!
4. SHADOW BANDS: If you see thin shadows slithering across the ground right before a total eclipse, don’t worry, it’s not the world ending. It’s a rare phenomenon called shadow bands, and the lighter the surface you’re standing on, the more likely it is that you’ll see them. We don’t know why it happens yet, but scientists think that it might be because of how light refracts through the atmosphere.
5. 360 DEGREE SUNSET: Have you ever wished that your sunsets were, well, more sunset-y? If you watch the horizon during the total eclipse, you’ll see a bright band of light around the entire horizon, like a sunset happening on every side.
It happens because the sun is still shining outside the moon’s shadow.
6. BAILEY’S BEADS: Also known as the “diamond ring effect”, Bailey’s beads happen when the hills and craters of the moon let little “pearls” of sunlight shine through the eclipse. When there’s only one huge “bead”, it’s called the “diamond ring effect”, because it looks a little like a gorgeous diamond ring hanging in the sky.
7. CONFUSED ANIMALS: The effects of the eclipse aren’t limited to phenomena up in the sky; since the atmosphere darkens and cools rapidly during the eclipse, animals think that it’s nighttime. Nocturnal animals like bats and owls may come out during the eclipse only to retreat, blinking, when the day resumes in full force.
8. MOON’S SHADOW: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s the shadow of the moon racing towards you at 1,500 miles per hour! Again, if you can drag your eyes away from the sky, and you have lucky timing, the shadow of the moon sweeping across the earth is awe-inspiring.
9. THE CORONA: This is the reason why everyone’s so fascinated by the total eclipse: for a few, precious minutes, you can see the corona or the layer of plasma surrounding the sun. During the eclipse, it appears as little white wisps called the coronal streamers. We still don’t know why exactly the atmosphere around the sun is so much hotter than the outer layer of the sun itself. Perhaps this recent eclipse will inspire some eager junior scientist to figure out why it’s happening.