Lunar topography has considerable relief because of the presence of mountains, craters, valleys and other topographical features. The irregularities of the lunar limb profile (the "edge" of the Moon, as seen from a distance) are known accurately from observations of grazing occultations of stars. Astronomers thus have a fairly good idea which mountains and valleys will cause the beads to appear in advance of the eclipse. While Baily's beads are seen briefly for a few seconds at the center of the eclipse path, their duration is maximized near the edges of the path of the umbra, reaching 1–2 minutes.
The Baily's beads phenomenon is seen during the credit opening sequence of the NBC TV show Heroes.
- Reference Publication on the Total Solar Eclipse of 1998 February 26.
- What to See During an Eclipse Continued.