What an Eclipse Is
We know eclipses to be beautiful things that happen in the sky, but they’re more complex than that. 5-Minute Crafts will now explain exactly what they are and what kinds of eclipses you can experience.
What eclipses actually are
In simple terms, an eclipse occurs when a body or object in space gets in between you and another body, blocking your view. On Earth, we routinely experience 2 kinds of eclipses: solar (sun) and lunar (moon).
The moon orbits Earth, and sometimes it moves between Earth and the sun. When this happens, the moon blocks the light coming from the sun from reaching Earth, causing a solar eclipse or eclipse of the sun. During this kind of eclipse, the moon casts a shadow onto Earth.
We can experience 3 kinds of solar eclipses:
- Total solar eclipse: The sky becomes very dark as if it were nighttime. This is only visible from a small part of Earth. People who see this eclipse are in the center of the moon’s shadow when it hits Earth. This type of eclipse only happens when the sun, the moon, and Earth are in a direct line.
- Partial solar eclipse: This occurs when the sun, the moon, and Earth are not exactly lined up. The sun only happens to have a dark shadow on a small part of its entire surface.
- Annular solar eclipse: This happens when the moon is farthest from Earth. When the moon is farther away, it seems smaller, so it doesn’t block the entirety of the sun. This creates what looks like a ring around the moon.
Earth orbits the sun at the same time that the moon moves in orbit around Earth. Sometimes, Earth can move in between the sun and the moon, blocking the sunlight that is normally reflected by the moon (the light that causes the moon to shine). This is called a lunar eclipse or eclipse of the moon, and it only happens during a full moon.
There are 2 types of lunar eclipses:
- Total lunar eclipse: This happens when the sun and moon are aligned on the exact opposite sides of Earth. This makes the moon appear to be red, as Earth’s atmosphere filters all the blue light when the sunlight passes through it.
- Partial lunar eclipse: This happens when only a part of the moon enters the shadow of Earth. During this kind of eclipse, Earth’s shadow will appear very dark on the side of the moon that’s facing Earth. What people will see from Earth will depend on how the sun, moon, and Earth are lined up.