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What is a solar eclipse?


A SOLAR eclipse occurs when the sun is either fully or partially obscured by the moon, casting a shadow on Earth.

The event happens when the sun, moon and Earth are aligned.

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A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun and the Earth[/caption]

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the Earth and the sun, blocking the light.

It only occurs during a new moon phase.

The next solar eclipse will be an annular solar eclipse and is due to occur on June 10, 2021.

Some parts of the northern hemisphere will experience a total eclipse most prominently parts of northern Greenland, parts of nearby Baffin Bay, eastern Hudson Bay and northeastern Russia.

In the UK, the maximum eclipse is expected to happen at 11.13am – when the moon will cover nearly one-third of the sun.

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There are four different types of solar eclipses[/caption]

What are the different types of solar eclipses?

There are four types of solar eclipse.

Total solar eclipse

This occurs when the orbital planes align and the moon appears to completely block out the light from the sun.

When the total solar eclipse occurs – when the sun is completely covered – the “corona” is revealed, the outer atmosphere of the sun.

Partial solar eclipse

This happens when a part of the sun is always in view, creating a “penumbra” or partial shadow.

The amount of sun which is obscured by the moon depends on where the person viewing the event happens to be.

This can range from a relatively small bite-sized chunk appearing to the sun taking on a slim crescent-shape.

Annular solar eclipse

Annular solar eclipses are rare and considered as a sort of variant on a partial solar eclipse.

An annular solar eclipse appears similar to a total eclipse in that the moon appears to pass centrally across the sun, creating a “counterfeit twilight”.

The event occurs when the three objects are not quite fully aligned with the moon being vastly smaller than the sun, and the sun is not completely covered.

As Space.com explains: “During such an eclipse, the antumbra, a theoretical continuation of the umbra, reaches the ground, and anyone situated within it can look up past either side of the umbra and see an annulus, or “ring of fire” around the moon.

“A good analogy is putting a penny atop a nickel, the penny being the moon, the nickel being the sun.”

Hybrid solar eclipses

These are also known as annular-total (“A-T”) eclipses. 

They occur when the moon’s distance is near its limit for the umbra to reach Earth.

An A-T eclipse usually starts as an annular eclipse due to the tip of the umbra falling just short of making contact with Earth; then it becomes total, because the curvature of the planet reaches up and intercepts the shadow tip near the middle of the path, then finally it returns to annular toward the end of the path.

Of all solar eclipses, about 28 per cent are total; 35 per cent are partial; 32 per cent annular and just five per cent are hybrids.


How often are solar eclipses?

Eclipses don’t happen at every new moon.

The number of times a solar eclipse occurs varies but usually they happen at least twice a year and can be as many as five.

On average a total eclipse occurs somewhere on Earth about every 18 months.



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