A solar eclipse is a natural event that takes place on Earth when the Moon moves in its orbit between Earth and the Sun (this is also known as an occultation). It happens at New Moon, when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction with each other.
Total lunar eclipse: In a total solar eclipse, the Moon blocks the entire solar disk (the surface of the Sun). In this event, the narrowest part of the path (where the Moon, while shedding its Umbra, completely blocks the surface of the Sun) is known as the “zone of totality.”
All About Eclipses
Partial Solar Eclipse: An event of a partial solar eclipse happens when Earth passes through the lighter part of the Moon’s shadow (lunar penumbra) as the Moon comes between Earth and the Sun. in this event the Moon does not completely cover the surface of the Sun, as seen from Earth. During a partial solar eclipse one might see anything between from a small scrap of the Sun being blotted out to a nearly total eclipse as it depends entirely on one’s location.
Lunar Eclipse Compared To Solar Eclipse
A “lunar eclipse” and a “solar eclipse” refer to events involving three celestial bodies: the Sun (“solar”), the moon (“lunar”), and the Earth. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun, and the Earth’s shadow obscures the moon or a portion of it. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, blocking all or a portion of the Sun.
An eclipse can be total, partial, or annular. A total solar eclipse is when the moon blocks out the Sun entirely, a partial eclipse is when it blocks out a portion of the Sun, and an annular eclipse is when the moon is at its furthest point in orbit. It will not cover the Sun completely that’s when you can see a thin ring of light emerging from the outside rim of the moon.
How are a lunar eclipse and solar eclipse different?
A lunar eclipse occurs at night and a solar eclipse occurs during the day. There are only certain times when either of them can occur. A lunar eclipse can only occur when the moon is directly opposite the Sun in the sky — a full moon. Even though there is a full moon each month, obviously a lunar eclipse does not occur on a monthly basis because the Sun isn’t exactly in line with the Earth and the moon. The moon’s orbit is actually tilted 5 degrees more than that of the Earth; otherwise, we would see a lunar eclipse each month.
We can see lunar eclipses more readily than solar eclipses, and it has to do with proximity. The Moon is much closer to the Earth (well over 300 times closer than the Sun!), so the Earth has a much greater chance of blocking sunlight to the Moon, compared to the Moon blocking light from the Sun. Also, a lunar eclipse can be seen from a greater portion of the Earth. Solar eclipses, on the other hand, are more rare and when they do happen can only be seen by a very narrow segment of people on Earth, for a short period of time.
It is quite safe to watch a lunar eclipse with the naked eye, while watching a solar eclipse without eyewear protection can seriously damage your eyesight. You can use a telescope to get a clearer view of the moon during an eclipse and really see what is happening.
A solar eclipse has always had a more profound effect on humans than a lunar eclipse. This is probably because of the importance of the Sun to all life on Earth. In ancient China, a solar eclipse was thought to be the dragon coming to eat the Sun. The effect that an eclipse has on all life on Earth is of particular interest to scientists. They eagerly await a solar eclipse because it helps them to gather more knowledge about the Sun and its position with respect to Earth.
How often do lunar eclipses happen?
During the 21st century, there are 85 total lunar eclipses; a specific geographical location on the surface of the Earth will be able to see an average 40 to 45 total lunar eclipses or about one about every 2.3 years. Contrast this to a total eclipse of the sun, which, as seen from a specific geographic location occurs on an average of once every 375 years.
Can total lunar eclipses predict earthquakes?
The 1971 San Fernando earthquake (also known as the Sylmar earthquake) occurred in the early morning of Feb. 9 in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California. The magnitude was determined to be of Richter magnitude 6.7. Fifteen hours later, a total lunar eclipse took place and there were some that suggested that the alignment of the sun, Earth and moon was responsible.
Dr. William Kaufmann, who was the director of the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles back then and he noted that, “Today the sun and moon are pulling the Earth in exactly opposite directions. As a result, the Earth is squeezed into the shape of a football instead of a sphere, and we believe that gravitational forces and tidal stresses caused by this alignment are probably what triggered the earthquake.” However, there have been many total lunar eclipses in recent history and only a few isolated cases were accompanied by any significant earthquake activity. While the sun-Earth-moon alignment (called a syzygy) might be one ingredient in causing an earthquake, any actual relationship is highly inconclusive.
Fact and fiction:
A solar eclipse has long been thought to be the work of the gods
In Ancient Greece, a solar eclipse was seen as a sign that the gods were angry and thought to be an omen of bad things to come. The word eclipse actually comes from the Ancient Greek work ekleipsis which meant being abandoned.
Pregnant women will stay indoors
Rates of conception for under-18s in England and Wales are at their lowest since records began in 1969, according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics.
Babies: Pregnant women and children are said to be harmed by the eclipse
A popular myth that still persists in some cultures is that pregnant women can be harmed by the solar eclipse, and as such should stay indoors during the event.
It is claimed that if a pregnant woman goes out during an eclipse, her baby will be born blind of with a cleft lip.
In parts of India, people do not eat during a solar eclipse and give away any food that lay uneaten. This comes from a belief that any food cooked while the eclipse takes place, will be poisonous and impure.
More facts: If any planets remain in the sky at the time of a total solar eclipse, they can be watched as points of light. Almost same eclipses occur after 18 years and 11 days. This period of 223 synodic months has been termed as saros. Conditions in the zone of totality, during a total solar eclipse, can change quickly. Air temperature drops and immediately the area becomes dark.
Safety Notes for Watching a Solar Eclipse:
In order to avoid serious eye damage that can even lead to the blindness because of the burning of eyes, one must never look at the Sun directly. To watch the eclipse safely one must use approved filters such as projecting sunlight through a telescope and into a white piece of paper or cardboard. One must never look at the Sun through a telescope that does not have proper filter.
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