Difference between a Solar and Lunar Eclipse

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

What is the difference between a Solar and a Lunar Eclipse?

When the shadow of one celestial body like the moon or the earth falls on another eclipse occurs a solar eclipse happens.

When the moon comes between the earth and the sun and the shadow of the moon falls on part of the
earth a solar eclipse happens.
When the earth comes between the Sun and the moon and the shadow of Earth falls on the moon a lunar eclipse occurs.
One way to help you remember the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse is the order of
the celestial bodies.
 
During a solar eclipse, the order is the Sun Moon, and Earth or SME
The sun is blocked from our view on Earth.

solar eclipse


During a lunar eclipse, the order of the celestial bodies is Sun-Earth-Moon or SEM
The moon is blocked from our view on Earth

lunar eclipse


Please remember that the shadow of the Moon only falls on a small portion of the earth and people during this portion can look towards the Sun to see the solar eclipse remember never look directly at the Sun. 

Here is the path of 2017’s solar eclipse. Notice how narrow the path is.

You may be wondering why you don't see a solar and lunar eclipse
every month? 

The reason is that the moon's orbit around the earth is tilted by about 5 degrees relative to the orbit of the earth around the Sun.

 This tilt is just enough to place the moon out of the Earth's shadow for most full moons and the earth out of the moon's shadow for most new moons. 
When the moon or earth is blocking the sun three types of shadows are created.
The umbra, penumbra, and the antumbra
The umbra is a shadow's dark core.
The penumbra is the less dark outer part of the shadow surrounding the dark core
The antumbra is the lighter area of a shadow that appears beyond the umbra.

umbras


These different shadows can cause different types of solar eclipses.
There are three main types of solar eclipses, total, partial,and annular

A total solar eclipse occurs at a small portion of the earth that the umbra covers.
The sun is covered and for a brief period of time and it will become dark.

A partial solar eclipse occurs when the umbra does not hit the earth or in the region of the penumbra during a total eclipse.

An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon is near its farthest point from Earth, called apogee and the moon does not block out the sun completely

There are also different types of lunar eclipses.
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
The Moon passes through Earth's penumbral shadow.

Partial Lunar Eclipse
A portion of the Moon passes through Earth's umbral shadow.

Total Lunar Eclipse
The entire Moon passes through Earth's umbral shadow.

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