solar eclipse

solar eclipse

solar eclipse or total solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between Earth and the sun a portion a shadow cast by the Moon which fully or partially blocks sunlight

solar eclipse occurs when a portion of the Earth is engulfed in a shadow cast by the Moon which fully or partially blocks sunlight. This occurs when the SunMoon and Earth are aligned. Such alignment coincides with a new moon (syzygy) indicating the Moon is closest to the ecliptic plane. In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. In partial and annular eclipses, only part of the Sun is obscured.

total solar eclipses every new moon

If the Moon were in a perfectly circular orbit, a little closer to the Earth, and in the same orbital plane, there would be total solar-eclipses every new moon. However, since the Moon’s orbit is tilted at more than 5 degrees to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, its shadow usually misses Earth. A solar eclipse can occur only when the Moon is close enough to the ecliptic plane during a new moon. Special conditions must occur for the two events to coincide because the Moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic at its orbital nodes twice every draconic month (27.212220 days) while a new moon occurs one every synodic month (29.53059 days). Solar (and lunar) eclipses therefore happen only during eclipse seasons resulting in at least two, and up to five, solar eclipses each year; no more than two of which can be total eclipses.

Why solar eclipse is dangerous

Exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar  can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy. This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina ( the back of the eye ) that transmit what you see to the brain.

The Moon Eclipses the Sun

An eclipse of the Sun happens when the New Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, blocking out the Sun’s rays and casting a shadow on parts of Earth.

The Moon’s shadow is not big enough to engulf the entire planet, so the shadow is always limited to a certain area (see map illustrations below). This area changes during the course of the eclipse because the Moon and Earth are in constant motion: Earth continuously rotates around its axis while it orbits the Sun, and the Moon orbits Earth. This is why solar eclipses seem to travel from one place to another.

Types of Solar Eclipses

There are 4 different types of solar eclipses. How much of the Sun’s disk is eclipsed, the eclipse magnitude, depends on which part of the Moon’s shadow falls on Earth.

  1. Partial solar eclipses occur when the Moon only partially obscures the Sun’s disk and casts only its penumbra on Earth.
  2. Annular solar eclipses take place when the Moon’s disk is not big enough to cover the entire disk of the Sun, and the Sun’s outer edges remain visible to form a ring of fire in the sky. An annular eclipse of the Sun takes place when the Moon is near apogee, and the Moon’s antumbra falls on Earth.
  3. Total solar eclipses happen when the Moon completely covers the Sun, and it can only take place when the Moon is near perigee, the point of the Moon’s orbit closest to Earth. You can only see a total solar eclipse if you’re in the path where the Moon casts its darkest shadow, the umbra.
  4. Hybrid Solar Eclipses, also known as annular-total eclipses, are the rarest type. They occur when the same eclipse changes from an annular to a total solar eclipse, and/or vice versa, along the eclipse’s path.

Solar Eclipses Mainly Look Partial

Solar eclipses are only visible from within the area on Earth where the Moon’s shadow falls, and the closer you are to the center of the shadow’s path, the bigger the eclipse looks.

Solar eclipses are usually named for their darkest, or maximum, point. The exception is the hybrid eclipse.

The darkest point of solar eclipses is only visible from a small area. In most places and for most of the duration, total, annular, and hybrid eclipses look like a partial solar eclipse.

Only around New Moon

For a solar eclipse to take place, the Sun, the Moon, and Earth must be aligned in a perfect or near perfect straight line. A rough alignment of the three bodies happens every lunar month, at the New Moon.

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