Lunar and Solar Eclipses


Solar and Lunar Eclipses

Here you can find about future eclipses where they will be and when. 


Lunar Eclipses

A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth is between the sun and the moon and it is a full moon.  Some wonder why we don't have an eclipse every month.   There is a 5-degree tilt in the moons orbit that either puts the moon above or below the earth's shadow.   However, twice a year the full moon occurs when the moon is crossing the earth's shadow.  There are three kinds of lunar eclipses:

A penumbra eclipse of the moon occurs when the moon passes inside the earth's outer shadow.  Only a slight dimming of the moons light occurs.

A partial eclipse is when the part of the moon passes inside the earth's inner shadow.  This kind of eclipse darkens the part of the moon that is in the shadow.

A total eclipse of the moon occurs when the entire moon passes inside the earth's inner shadow.  The moon does not completely disappear but turns a dark orange or red.  The eclipse can last as long as 90 minutes.




The diagram below outlines what occurs during a lunar eclipse.

Solar Eclipses

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is between the sun and the earth and the moon is in new phase.  Some wonder why we don't have an eclipse every month.   There is a 5-degree tilt in the moons orbit that either puts the moon above or below the earth's shadow.   However, twice a year the new moon occurs when the moon is crossing the earth's shadow. There is always at least three kinds of solar eclipses twice a year.

A partial eclipse is when the part of the outer shadow of the moon (penumbra) is casted on the earth.   This kind of eclipse only covers part of the sun. You can also have a partial eclipse if you are outside of the path of a total or annular eclipse. You must use a solar filter at all times to view this eclipse.  Unless the partial eclipse is a large coverage, there is usually no dimming of sunlight

A annular eclipse is when the part of the inner shadow of the moon (umbra) is casted on the earth.   However, the moon is too far from the earth to cover the sun completely so it covers only the middle part of the sun, causing a ring. The annular part of this eclipse can last up to 11 minutes to only a few seconds. When the annular eclipse is that short, it is very close to a total eclipse.  Because the sun is still not completely covered, you must use a solar filter at all times to view this eclipse.   During this kind of eclipse, the sunlight is dimmed a little as if the sun was behind some high thin clouds.


A total eclipse is when the part of the inner shadow of the moon (umbra) is casted on the earth.   However, the moon is close enough from the earth to cover the sun.  The total part of this eclipse can last up to 7 minutes to only a few seconds. During the total part only, you do not need a solar filter because the moon is blocking the sun and the sky will get dark.  During this kind of eclipse, it becomes dark enough to see the brighter stars and planets.  Animals are puzzled and there are a few effects such as shadow bands which can occur.  This eclipse also produces the 360 degree sunset effect.  That is because the dark shadow cone is above you while along the horizon so can see where the eclipse is partial.  Be careful to time the eclipse so you know when the moon will no longer blocking the sun light. It only takes a fraction of a second to damage your eyes when viewing the sun with optical aid.

The diagrams below outlines eclipses from 2000 to 2050.