Baily's beads

[ bey-leez ]
/ ˈbeɪ liz /

plural noun

spots of light that appear to encircle the moon, resembling a string of luminous beads, visible immediately before and after a total eclipse, caused by the sun's light shining between the mountains on the moon's surface.


Origin of Baily's beads

named after Francis Baily (1774–1844), English astronomer who first described them

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for baily's beads

Baily's beads

/ (ˈbeɪlɪz) /

pl n

the brilliant points of sunlight that appear briefly around the moon, just before and after a total eclipse

Word Origin for Baily's beads

C19: named after Francis Baily (died 1844), English astronomer who described them

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Science definitions for baily's beads

Baily's beads

[ bālēz ]

A discontinuous, beadlike pattern of sunlight visible along the edge of the darkened Moon's disk in the seconds before and after totality during a full solar eclipse. The pattern is caused by light shining through the uneven lunar topography silhouetted along the curved edges of the disk. Baily's beads are named after British astronomer Francis Baily (1774-1844), who first observed them in 1836.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.