There are many celestial events that happen daily. Most of these pass by without the slightest notice by the population at large, but only a few are talked about, prepared for, and celebrated. Many people across the world, however, recognize the phenomenon known as an eclipse. People will travel from country to country in order to view this celestial event. There are two categories of eclipse: solar and lunar.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. The Sun then becomes either partially or full covered to those viewing the eclipse on the Earth. There are several types of solar eclipses. The first is a total eclipse which occurs when the sun is completely obscured by the moon and the bright sun is replaced by the silhouette of the moon and only the corona is visible to the Earth. This type of eclipse is only visible on a very small section of the Earth.
The next type of solar eclipse is called an annular eclipse. This occurs when the Sun and Moon are exactly in line, but the moon appears to be much smaller than the Sun. Therefore, the sun appears as a very bright ring around the silhouette of the moon called an annulus. A hybrid eclipse occurs when the phenomenon phases between a total and an annular eclipse. The final type of solar eclipse is a partial eclipse. In this eclipse, the Moon only partially obscures the sun. This occurs because the umbra, or the darkest part of the shadow, never passes across the surface of the earth.
The other category of eclipse is called a lunar eclipse. This phenomenon occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon causing the moon to dim proportionately the amount of light from the Sun that is blocked by the Earth. As with the solar eclipse, there are several different types of lunar eclipse.
The first kind of lunar eclipse is called a penumbral eclipse. This occurs when the moon enters completely into the Earth’s penumbral shadow. This type of eclipse is subtle and difficult to observe. The next type is called a partial lunar eclipse. This can be observed when the moon passes through the Earth’s umbral shadow. This is easily observable even to the naked eye. The third basic lunar eclipse is called a total lunar eclipse. This occurs when the entire moon passes through the Earth’s numeral shadow. This is a striking event due to the moon’s vibrant red color during the total phase.
The eclipse has been heralded throughout history by many different cultures as signs of good fortune or impending doom. Whether or not these phenomena actually mark the passing of significant events, eclipses will continue to captivate the Earth’s population at large for as long as humanity continues to exist on this planet.