In general optics, a penumbra is the lighter, outer shadow of a double-shadow effect produced by a large, unfocused source of light shining on an interfering opaque object. A penumbral eclipse is one in which the eclipsed object passes through the penumbral shadow.


With particular reference to solar features, a penumbra is the lighter area, marked by radial filaments, that may surround the darker, central umbra of a sunspot. Penumbral waves are waves observed in the light of H-alpha that move out from the center of a sunspot across the penumbra.