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Visibility of stars, halos, and rainbows during solar eclipses

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Abstract

The visibility of stars, planets, diffraction coronas, halos, and rainbows during the partial and total phases of a solar eclipse is studied. The limiting magnitude during various stages of the partial phase is presented. The sky radiance during totality with respect to noneclipse conditions is revisited and found to be typically 1/4000. The corresponding limiting magnitude is +3.5. At totality, the signal-to-background ratio of diffraction coronas, halos, and rainbows has dropped by a factor of 250. It is found that diffraction coronas around the totally eclipsed Sun may nevertheless occur. Analyses of lunar halo observations during twilight indicate that bright halo displays may also persist during totality. Rainbows during totality seem impossible.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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