What Makes An Eclipse?
On August 21, 2017, there was the “Great American Solar Eclipse.” This eclipse made a path cutting straight through the USA going from one coast of the U.S. to the other. There are two different types of eclipses; solar, and lunar. After one of these eclipses happen, it can be years until the next one. If you went and saw the solar eclipse; you would have seen blackness through the glasses and you could see that it looked like the moon was lighting up. Without the glasses, you could see the sky was getting a dark grayish black like in the night. But you might wonder; “What are eclipses and how do they work?”
What is a Lunar Eclipse?
According to NASA, “the moon is in orbit around the earth, and at the same time, Earth orbits the sun” (www.nasa.gov). Sometimes, Earth moves in between the sun and the moon. When this takes place; Earth blocks the sunlight that usually shines on the moon. This means that Earth’s shadow hits the moon instead of the light that the sun would normally shine on it. This means that it is an eclipse of the moon; a lunar eclipse. There are two different types of lunar eclipses; partial lunar eclipses, and total lunar eclipses.
What is a Partial Lunar Eclipse?
According to the text, “a partial lunar eclipse happens when only a part of the moon enters Earth’s shadow (NASA prgh 5). This means that instead of the whole moon passing through Earth’s shadow, only a portion of the moon passes through Earth’s shadow. The shadow from Earth appears very dark on the side of the moon that is facing Earth. What is seen from Earth during a partial lunar eclipse depends on how the moon, Earth, and the sun are lined up.
What is a Total Lunar Eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse is when the moon and sun are on the exact opposite sides of Earth. Even though the sun is in the shadow of the Earth, some sunlight still reaches the moon. According to the text, “ The sunlight passes through Earth’s atmosphere, which causes Earth’s atmosphere to filter out most of the blue light (NASA prgh 4). As a result, the moon appears red to some places on Earth.
What is a Solar Eclipse?
According to the text, “Sometimes when the moon orbits Earth, it moves between the sun and Earth. When this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching Earth” (NASA prgh 7). This makes an eclipse of the sun or a “solar eclipse.” There are three different types of solar eclipses; partial, total, and annular solar eclipses.
What is a Partial Solar Eclipse?
A partial solar eclipse happens when the sun, Earth, and moon are not exactly lined up. This means that the sun appears to have a dark shadow on just part of the sun’s surface.
What is a Total Solar Eclipse?
When a total solar eclipse occurs, the sun, moon, and Earth are in a direct line. When a total solar eclipse happens, the sky becomes dark as if it is night. The people who can view a total solar eclipse are in the center of the moon’s shadow when it hits Earth. Total solar eclipses are only visible from a small area on Earth.
What is an Annular Solar Eclipse?
An annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon is farthest from Earth. As a result of the moon being far away from Earth, it looks smaller. Because the moon looks smaller, the moon does not block the entire sun. According to the text, “the moon in front of the sun looks like a dark disk on top of a larger sun-colored disk” (NASA prgh 10). This makes a ring shape around the moon.
What Happens During A Solar Eclipse?
While a solar eclipse occurs, the moon casts two shadows on Earth. The first shadow is the Umbra. As this shadow approaches Earth, it grows smaller. It is the dark center of the moon’s shadow. The second shadow is the penumbra. Unlike the umbra, the penumbra grows larger as it approaches Earth. If you are in the umbra, you will view a total solar eclipse. If you are in the penumbra, you will view a total eclipse.
What Are Some Differences Between Solar and Lunar Eclipses?
The word “lunar” means relating or in resemblance to the moon. The word “solar” means relating or in resemblance to the sun. About two partial lunar eclipses happen every year. However, solar eclipses happen about every 18 months. Unlike lunar eclipses where they last for a few hours, solar eclipses last for a few minutes. You can look at a lunar eclipse without any glasses or protective gear. But, when viewing a solar eclipse, you have to wear protective gear or special glasses for viewing the sun. Without these glasses, you can get major damage to your eyes where you might never get to see again.
So the next time you go and view an eclipse, remember what type of eclipse you are viewing and make sure to wear the right equipment to view the eclipse! Also, a similarity of eclipses are that the moon has to be full. Remember that during a solar eclipse if you are in the umbra, you can get a view of a total solar eclipse. If you are in the penumbra, you will still see a solar eclipse but it will just be a partial solar eclipse. Also, mark your calendars for these events. These events can be rare and they might not occur for about another century. If you would like to keep an update on eclipses that are coming up, just visit www.nasa.gov or visit them on Facebook or Twitter.
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