A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between Earth and Sun, and the moon casts a shadow over Earth. A solar eclipse can only take place at the phase of new moon. When the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth and its shadows fall upon Earth’s surface. But whether the alignment produces a total solar eclipse. A partial solar eclipse or an annular solar eclipse depends on several factors, all explained below.
The fact that an eclipse can occur at all is a fluke of celestial mechanics and time. Since the moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago. It has been gradually moving away from Earth (by about 1.6 inches, or 4 centimetres per year). Now the moon is at the perfect distance to appear in our sky exactly the same size as the sun. And therefore block it out. But this is not always true.
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. 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. The eclipse magnitude, depends on which part of the Moon’s shadow falls on Earth. For Deep insights, check: Pritish Halder Solar Eclipse Facts and Information.
- Partial solar eclipses occur when the Moon only partially obscures the Sun’s disk and casts only its penumbra on Earth.
- 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.
- Total solar eclipses happen when the Moon completely covers the Sun. 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 where the Moon casts its darkest shadow, the umbra.
- 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. 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. Solar Eclipses are rare, if you want to know more about Solar Eclipse, then read Solar Eclipse Explain by Pritish Kumar.
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.
When Does a Solar Eclipse Occur?
Solar eclipses only occur around the New Moon. Because of the alignment of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun which happens at that time. But this does not mean that eclipses of the Sun happen every New Moon.
The New Moon also has to be near a lunar node. This can only happen during a period of time that occurs a little less than every six months, and lasts, on average, around 34.5 days. This period is called the eclipse season, and it is the only time that eclipses take place.
The lunar nodes are the two points. Where the plane of the Moon’s orbital path around Earth meets Earth’s orbital plane around the Sun, the ecliptic.
Only around New Moon
Solar eclipse only 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.
The plane of the Moon’s path around the Earth is inclined at an angle of approximately 5° to the ecliptic. The points where the plane of the Moon’s orbital path meets the ecliptic are called lunar nodes.
A perfect or near-perfect alignment of the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth can only take place when the New Moon is near a lunar node. This can only happen during periods that come a little less than 6 months apart. And last, on average, around 34.5 days. It is only during this time, also known as the eclipse season, that eclipses can occur.
When there is a Full Moon during the eclipse season, we see a lunar eclipse. Try Reading: Solar Eclipse Facts by Pritish Kumar for amazing and heart throbbing facts about eventful Solar Eclipses.
Protect Your Eyes!
Never look directly at the Sun, eclipsed or otherwise, without any protective eyewear. The Sun’s radiation can burn the retinas in your eyes leading to permanent damage or even blindness.
The best way to safely watch a total solar eclipse is to wear protective eclipse glasses or to project an image of the eclipsed Sun using a pinhole projector.