Solar Vs Lunar Eclipse
Solar and lunar eclipses have always attracted a lot of attraction. Though they are all natural phenomena which occur when one celestial body is fully or partially visually blocked by another, in the past, they have been surrounded by myth, superstition and often also a great deal of fear. Both solar and lunar eclipses have been recorded by ancient civilisations, while some even correctly predicted the future eclipses. But due to the lack of understanding we have about these two phenomena today, eclipses have often been seen as signs or omens of the forthcoming danger or apocalyptic events. This would change only after the beginning of modern astronomy although the eclipses are occasionally still interpreted in a non-scientific way.
Quick Facts About Solar Eclipse
Solar eclipse refers to a total or partial obscuring of the Sun by the Moon. It occurs when the Moon is positioned between the Sun and Earth. Solar eclipse can occur only at new Moon and its conjunction with the Sun or alignment known as syzygy.
There are several types of solar eclipse:
Total eclipse. Like its name suggests, this type of solar eclipse involves total obscuring of the Sun. While blocking the Sun, however, the Moon exposes the corona that is best seen during the eclipse.
Partial eclipse. This type of eclipse involves only partial obscuring.
Annular eclipse. It refers to a type of eclipse in which the Moon is perfectly aligned with the Sun but appears to be smaller. As a result, annular eclipse makes the Sun appear as an intensively bright ring of light.
Hybrid eclipse. This rare form of eclipse occurs when the obscuring of the Sun is seen differently at different locations. It can be seen as total or annular eclipse.
Quick Facts About Lunar Eclipse
Lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon is the Earth’s shadow or umbra. Obviously, it can occur only during the night and at a full moon.
Three types of lunar eclipse exist:
Total eclipse. In this type of eclipse, the Moon is entirely in the Earth’s shadow but isn’t entirely dark.
Penumbral eclipse. This is a type of total eclipse but since the Moon is in the Earth’s penumbra rather than umbra, it is seen only as a subtle darkening of the Moon.
Partial eclipse. This type of eclipse involves only partial obscuring of the Moon’s surface.
The Difference Between Solar and Lunar Eclipses
Solar and lunar eclipses are two distinct phenomena although both involve obscuring of one astronomical body by another. Unlike the solar eclipse which occurs when the Sun is blocked by the Moon, however, lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon enters the Earth’s shadow. And unlike solar eclipse which can be observed only with some sort of eye protection, lunar eclipse can safely be observed without any eye protection whatsoever. Also, it lasts much longer than solar eclipses, especially total which last only a few minutes.