Eclipsing binary stars are just one several types of variable stars. These stars appear as a single point of light to an observer, but based on its brightness variation and spectroscopic observations we can say for certain that the single point of light is actually two stars in close orbit around one another. The variations in light intensity from eclipsing binary stars is caused by one star passing in front of the other relative to an observer. If we assume that the stars are spherical and that they have circular orbits, then we can easily approximate how the light varies as a function of time for eclipsing binary stars.
An Eclipsing Binary Star Simulator
Simulator courtesy of University of Nebraska-Lincoln