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Illustration of Earth’s distance to the Sun.
Eclipses occur when a moon or planet moves into the shadow of another object. In the case of a solar eclipse, the moon comes in between the sun and the earth and completely blocks the sun from a viewer on earth as shown above. This obviously can happen during the day time when the sun is up. Note that you can view a solar eclipse only from a small part of the earth as it is far larger than the moon. From other parts you will get a partial view of the sun during the eclipse.
Also, because of how much larger the Earth is than the Moon and how distant the Moon is, a total solar eclipse only occurs over a narrow range of the Earth at any given time.
The Solar Eclipse
Total Solar Eclipse
A total solar eclipse is one of the most spectacular sights on Earth, and one that’s eluded the continental United States for nearly a century. Due to the elliptical, inclined orbits of the Sun, Moon and Earth, alignments where the Moon’s shadow passes across the Earth’s surface are rare, occurring only approximately once a year. Because of how much larger the Earth is than the Moon and how distant the Moon is, a total solar eclipse only occurs over a narrow range of the Earth at any given time.
On August 21, 2017, the Great American Eclipse occured, with a path of totality cutting from the Oregon coast all the way to the edge of South Carolina, casting darkness over 14 states. Although similar eclipses repeat in cycles, the lower 48 states haven’t seen a total solar eclipse that’s gone coast-to-coast since 1918, which almost confirmed Einstein’s greatest theory to the entire world.
Total solar eclipse 1999 in France. (Luc Viatour, lucnix.be)
Image credit: Mir / RSA, 1999, of the Moon’s shadow falling on Earth, during a total solar eclipse as seen from space.
Note that, if you are standing only in the dark part of the earth, you will experience a total solar eclipse, that is, the sun will be completely cut off from your view for a few minutes before it slowly starts emerging again.
Futere dates of solar eclipse
The continental United States experienced a solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. But if you got clouded out thas time, don’t despair. Totality returns to the United States in 2024, and then again in 2045 and 2052. Although hotels, campgrounds, and special-event venues are already booked solid, there’s nothing to stop you from driving down to the path of totality the night before. Pack into your car, bring lots of water (and some food), and when totality does arrive, look for the Sun’s corona and stars during the key moments.
The Lunar Eclipse
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). A lunar eclipse can occur only the night of a full moon.
Within the central umbra shadow, the moon is totally shielded from direct illumination by the Sun. In contrast, within the penumbra shadow, only a portion of Sunlight is blocked.
Photograph of full moon during the total lunar eclipse of 28 September 2015.
See the Super Blue Blood moon