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Solar and Lunar Eclipses



Solar and Lunar Eclipses

We hear a lot about the eclipses of the sun and the moon but what, exactly, are they?

Eclipse of the Moon

A total eclipse of the moon occurs when the moon passes through the earth's shadow.

Because of the earth's atmosphere the full moon slowly darkens and turns a coppery red.

It does not appear black because the atmosphere bends some of the sun's light onto the moon's surface and as it passes through a large distance of earth's atmosphere the red end of the spectrum predominates creating the wonderful colour.

An eclipse can last up to one hour and forty minutes and there are between two and five each year.

When the sun, earth and moon are not in perfect alignment we can experience a partial eclipse.

The concept that the earth is round was formed by viewing an eclipse.

Eclipse of the Sun

Imagine how scary it must have been for people, before science, when the daytime sky suddenly turned black and the stars twinkled.

An eclipse of the sun occurs when the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun, totally blocking out the sun with the exception of a bright corona.

A total eclipse of the sun can only be viewed along a narrow path of up to 270 Km wide and whilst they occur about twice every three years they are seen from any given point only about once every four hundred years.

The corona seen around the black disk of the moon is the sun's outer atmosphere but you must remember that looking directly at an eclipse is dangerous.


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