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How Many Types Of Solar Eclipses Do You Know? Learn About The Science Behind Solar Eclipses

The topic of solar eclipses is one of the most interesting scientific and astronomical discussions- that’s mainly because we can experience them. Solar eclipses are magical events that many historians have recorded over centuries. Although it was interpreted as a sign of some god’s anger, people now understand it’s a scientific occurrence. This article is dedicated to the causes and types of solar eclipses.

How and why do solar eclipses happen?

A solar eclipse is characterized by the alignment of the Sun and Moon on the same side of the Earth. Generally, a solar eclipse can only happen during the new moon because that’s when the Moon starts its orbit. So what causes it?

Courtesy: Pinterest

A solar eclipse is created when the moon casts a shadow on the Earth. The extent of this shadow’s significance depends on the moon’s movement and the Earth’s spinning. It’s worthy of note that directly looking at an eclipse can cause serious eye damage.

Partial solar eclipse

The way the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned is the main determinant of the type of eclipse we observe. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Sun and the Moon are not perfectly aligned, and the effect is not noticeable.

Courtesy: NASA

This partial alignment implies that only a part of the Moon moves across the Sun. The moon’s umbra (inner region of the shadow) doesn’t hit the Earth at all. Only the penumbra will hit our planet.

Annular solar eclipse

The Moon’s orbit around the Earth isn’t a perfect circle. It is slightly oval-shaped or elliptical. Similarly, the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is also oval-shaped. This means the Moon changes distance from us as it orbits the Earth. How does this cause annular eclipses?

Courtesy: The Nine Planets

The moon looks smaller than usual at its farthest point from the Earth(its apogee). If it passes directly across the Sun at or near apogee, the Moon’s umbral shadow doesn’t reach the Earth, but a ring of sunlight appears around it, creating an annular eclipse.

Total solar eclipse

Just as you were probably expecting, a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the face of the Sun. Although the Sun is 400 times larger than the moon, it looks about the same size because the Sun is 400 times farther away.

Courtesy: Pinterest

As the Earth rotates, the constant movement of the moon makes the shadow travel across the Earth’s surface, tracing the eclipse path. The total eclipse lasts for just a few minutes or less at each location along the path of totality.

Hybrid solar eclipse

A hybrid solar eclipse combines a total and annular solar eclipse. During a hybrid solar eclipse, the dark shadow appears annular in some places but total in others. What you observe depends on your location.

Courtesy: Pinterest

A hybrid solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s umbra(darker shadow) reaches the surface of the Earth in some places and creates a total eclipse. However, the Earth’s surface curves away from the shadow so that the umbra doesn’t reach the Earth’s surface in other places.

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