By: Rachel H

What is an Eclipse?

An eclipse is when a shadow is shown on a planet or moon. It occurs when something crosses between a moon or planet and the sun, blocking the light for a short period of time. It is estimated that 2 solar eclipses occur on Earth each year, while 3 lunar eclipses occur yearly.

When are the next eclipses?

Total Solar Eclipse: August 21, 2017

Annular Solar: October 14, 2023

Total Lunar Eclipse: January 31, 2018

Penumbral Lunar: March 23, 2016

Solar Eclipses

Solar Eclipses occur when the moon passes between the Sun and Earth, creating a shadow that moves at 2,000 miles an hour. There are 4 types of solar eclipses, total, annular, partial, and hybrid eclipses. First, a total eclipse happens when the shadow of the moon completely blocks out the sun. Total eclipses occur about every 18 months. Secondly, an annular is when the moon only covers the middle part of the sun. This leaves a bright ring that people on Earth can see. Thirdly, there are partial eclipses, which is when the moon appears to take a bite out of the sun. Lastly, there are hybrid eclipses. Hybrid eclipses start out as annular eclipses, then the shadow doesn't reach the Earth at first, but finally does, which changes the eclipse to a total eclipse. The hybrid eclipse can also be called an annular-total eclipse.

Lunar Eclipses

Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon. The Earth casts a shadow on the moon and to people on Earth, the moon appears to vanish. This can only happen on a full moon. There are 3 types of lunar eclipses. First, there are total lunar eclipses, which, despite the name, are not totally dark. Some light is bent, making the moon a very dark shade of gray, which is still hard to see at a glance. Next, there is the partial lunar eclipse, which occurs when the Earth, moon, and sun are not completely lined up yet. This means the shadow of Earth covers only part of the moon. Lastly, there are penumbral eclipses. This type of eclipse is hard to notice for most people. There are 2 types of shadows, the umbra shadow and the penumbra shadow. The umbra shadow casts a dark, full shadow, while the penumbra shadow is on the outside and casts only a partial shadow. The moon passes through the penumbra shadow during a penumbral eclipse. These types of eclipses are very different from each other.


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