Solar Eclipse and Types of Solar Eclipse
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
What is Solar Eclipse?
- When the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth are aligned in a straight line or an almost straight configuration, such that the Moon comes between the Sun and Earth blocking the rays of Sun from directly reaching the Earth, the phenomenon is termed as solar eclipse.
- An eclipse is a natural phenomenon. Solar Eclipses only occur during New Moon, when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun.
- The Moon’s umbra (region of complete shadow) is only 380,000 km long, hence
- Just long enough for the tip to touch the Earth.
- But not large enough to cover the entire Earth.
- Solar Eclipses can be seen only where the shadow passes overhead.
Types of Solar Eclipses
There are four types of solar eclipses: total, annular, partial and hybrid. Of all solar eclipses, about 28 percent are total; 35 percent are partial; 32 percent annular; and just 5 percent are hybrids.
1. Total Solar Eclipses
- A total eclipse occurs when the dark shadow of the Moon completely covers the intensely bright light of the Sun, allowing the much dimmer solar corona to be visible.
- There are actually two types of shadows:
- The umbra is that part of the shadow where all sunlight is blocked out. The umbra takes the shape of a dark, slender cone.
- It is surrounded by the penumbra, a lighter, funnel-shaped shadow from which sunlight is partially obscured.
- During any one eclipse, totality occurs only in a narrow track on the surface of Earth. This narrow track is called the path of totality. During the brief period of totality, when the sun is completely covered, the beautiful corona, the thin outer atmosphere of the sun, is revealed. Totality lasts at most about 7.5 minutes, with the shadow sweeping rapidly west-to-east.
2. Partial solar eclipses
- Occurs when the Sun and Moon are not exactly in line with the Earth and the Moon only partially covers the Sun. A partial solar eclipse occurs when only the penumbra of the moon (the partial shadow) passes over the region.
- Some eclipses can only be seen as a partial eclipse, because the umbra passes above the Earth’s Polar Regions and never intersects the Earth’s surface.
- The closer you are to the path of totality, the greater the sun covered by the moon.
3. Annular solar eclipses
- Occurs when the Sun and Moon are exactly in line with the Earth, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. Hence the Sun appears as a very bright ring, or annulus, surrounding the dark disk of the Moon.
- The maximum duration for an annular eclipse is 12 minutes 30 seconds which is seen as “ring of fire” around the moon.
4. Hybrid solar eclipses
- These are also called annular-total eclipses because it shifts between a total and annular eclipse.
- At certain points on the surface of Earth, it appears as a total eclipse, whereas at other points it appears as annular. Hybrid eclipses are comparatively rare.
Precaution to be taken while viewing Solar Eclipse
- For viewing the Solar Eclipse use special solar filters or ‘eclipse glasses’ to protect your eyes.
- Don’t use the binoculars or X-ray films to see the eclipse, because even with that significant amount of radiation into your eyes, harming your eyesight in the process.
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