What are the strange 'moon shadows' seen during the total solar eclipse?

During the total solar eclipse On this Monday, April 8, most of the eyes were directed towards the sky, but also towards the ground. Among the effects caused by the eclipse in its shadow zone is the sudden night, the sudden drop in temperature and a curious visual effect called 'moon shadows'.

In videos and images published on social networks you can see how the shadows of the leaves of the trees change during the eclipse and take on a spherical shape, similar to a crescent. It is a consequence of an optical phenomenon known as pinhole or pinhole camera effect.

This effect occurs when sunlight, partially blocked by the Moon, filters through small holes in the leaves of trees or between the gaps between them, and projects images of the Sun in the shape of a crescent on the ground.

To explain it, let's imagine a closed box with a small hole in one of its walls. If you place the box in front of a light source, such as the Sun, the light passing through the hole will be projected onto the opposite wall of the box, creating an inverted image of the Sun. The same principle applies in the case of tree leaves during a solar eclipse.

Thus, the light of the Sun, which is gradually hidden behind the Moon, filters through the small openings between the leaves, creating multiple images of the miniature Sun above the ground. These images, due to the Moon interposing with the Sun, They are shaped like a crescent, hence the name 'moon shadows'..

The effect of 'moon shadows' is most visible during the totality phase of the eclipse, when the Moon completely covers the Sun and darkness increases. At this time, the contrast between light and shadow intensifies, making projected images sharper and more spectacular. This effect does not only occur in a total solar eclipse like the one that took place this week, but in any eclipse, although not with such intensity.