• Tuesday May 24,2022


We explain to you what an eclipse is and how this phenomenon occurs. In addition, the differences between a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse.

An eclipse occurs when the light of a star is covered by another.
  1. What is an eclipse?

An eclipse is an astronomical phenomenon in which the light of an incandescent star, such as the Sun, is completely or partially covered by another opaque star that interposes (known as the eclipsing body ) and whose shadow is projects on planet Earth. Its name comes from the Greek kleipsis : desaparici n .

In principle, eclipses can occur between any set of stars, as long as the dynamic of light and interposition described above occurs. However, as there are no observers outside the planet, we generally talk about two types of eclipse: lunar or lunar eclipses, and solar or solar eclipses, depending on which celestial body is obscured .

Since ancient times, eclipses fascinated and disturbed the human being, whose ancient civilizations saw in them a sign of change, catastrophe or rebirth, when not a bad omen, since most of religions worshiped the Sun in one way or another.

However, these phenomena were understood and predicted by ancient civilizations endowed with astronomical knowledge, since they studied the recurrence of astral cycles in their various calendars. Some of them came to use them to distinguish between epochs or political, religious or social ages.

  1. Why do eclipses occur?

In the lunar eclipse the Earth casts a shadow that obscures the Moon.

The logic of the eclipses is simple: a celestial body stands between us and some source of light, producing a shadow that can sometimes block much of the brightness. It is something similar to what happens when we cross an object in front of the light of an overhead projector: its shadow is also cast on the backdrop.

For eclipses to occur, however, there must be a more or less exact confluence of spatial factors between the Moon, the Earth and the Sun, which occurs once every certain number of orbital repetitions. That is why they occur with a certain frequency.

In addition, they can be predicted with the help of a computer, for example, because we know the time it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun and around its axis, as well as the time it takes for the Moon to orbit our planet.

  1. solar eclipse

In solar eclipses, the Moon stands between the Sun and the Earth.

The solar eclipse occurs when the Moon interposes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on a portion of the earth's surface, whose day is seen for a few shaded moments. This can only happen during a new moon, and it can happen in three different ways:

  • Partial solar eclipse . The Moon partially overshadows the sunlight or a visible segment of its circumference, leaving the rest visible.
  • Total solar eclipse . The position of the Moon is the correct one so that, in a certain place of the Earth, the Sun is totally obscured and an artificial night of a few minutes takes place.
  • Annular solar eclipse . The Moon coincides with the Sun in its positioning, but not in a way that completely covers it, thus exposing the solar corona only.

Solar eclipses are very frequent, but they can only be seen from a specific terrestrial point, since the Moon is much smaller than Earth. This means that at the same point a solar eclipse of some kind can be seen every 360 years.

See more in: Solar eclipse.

  1. lunar eclipse

In lunar eclipses, the Earth stands between the Sun and the Moon.

The lunar eclipse, unlike the solar one, occurs when the Earth interposes between the Moon and the Sun, casting its shadow on it and obscuring it to some extent, always from a certain terrestrial point.

The duration of these eclipses is variable and depends on the position of the Moon within the cone of shadow cast by the Earth, which is divided into Umbra (the darkest section) and Penumbra ( the less dark section).

Each year there are between 2 and 5 lunar eclipses, which can also be of three types:

  • Partial eclipse of Luna . A part of the Moon barely plunges into the cone of shadow cast by the Earth, being slightly obscured and darkened in some segment of its circumference.
  • Moon penumbral eclipse . It occurs when the Moon travels through the cone of shadow of the Earth, but only through the region of penumbra, that is, the least dark. This diffuse shadow may slightly obscure the vision of the Moon or may alter its color, turning from white to red or orange. There are also cases in which the Moon enters only partially into the penumbra, so it is possible to speak also of partial penumbral lunar eclipses.
  • Total eclipse of Luna . It happens when the Earth's shadow completely obscures the Moon, which happens gradually, going first from a penumbral eclipse to a partial one, then the total, and again the partial, the penumbral eclipse and the end of the eclipse.

See more in: Lunar eclipse.

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