|The Diamond Ring|
Finally, the last bit of the sun's surface disappears behind the moon and you will see the corona completely surrounding the dark moon. It is now perfectly safe to stare at the eclipse without eye protection. Now is also a great time to use binoculars to study the eclipse without the need for filters. However, you must keep track of the time so you aren't looking through binoculars when totality ends. For safety, I generally stop using binoculars at least 30 seconds before the predicted end of totality for my location.
All too quickly the moon will move off the surface of the sun, resulting in a second diamond ring. The whole thing will then play out in reverse, starting with the diamond ring, then Baily's Beads, the shadow bands, and the moon slowly leaving the sun. Be sure to put the solar filter back on your camera at this point, and of course use appropriate eye protection for the remaining parts of the eclipse.
My next blog entry will discuss some pointers if you want to take pictures during the eclipse. However, my best piece of advice for photographing your first total eclipse is this: don't do it. There will be many, many pictures available on the internet after the eclipse, but only your eyes can register the grandeur that will stay with you for the rest of your life. This is a relatively short eclipse (at most 2.5 minutes, and considerably less depending on where you are), so you should spend most of your time just using your eyes and binoculars.