What's the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse? | Summary and Q&A

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October 8, 2014
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Physics Girl
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What's the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse?

TL;DR

Solar eclipses occur when the moon blocks the sun, while lunar eclipses occur when the Earth blocks the sun from reaching the moon.

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Key Insights

  • 🤲 The names of solar and lunar eclipses indicate which celestial body is getting darker.
  • 😎 The order of the bodies during a solar eclipse is sun, moon, earth, and during a lunar eclipse, it is sun, earth, moon.
  • 😎 Lunar eclipses occur about six months apart due to the correct alignment of the moon, Earth, and sun.
  • 🫥 The size of the shadow involved in the eclipse affects its visibility, with lunar eclipses being more visible than solar eclipses.

Transcript

[SQUEAKING] Do you forget the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse, too? One looks like this. And the sunny day suddenly becomes dark. And the other is a full moon that gets darker and darker. A lunar eclipse is when the moon is blocking the light from the sun. Wait a minute. No. I changed my mind. See? It's not just us. Here are three diff... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What causes a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse is caused when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, blocking the sunlight from reaching Earth.

Q: How is a lunar eclipse different from a solar eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, casting its shadow on the lunar surface. In contrast, a solar eclipse is when the moon blocks the sun's light from reaching Earth.

Q: Why don't we see lunar eclipses all the time?

Lunar eclipses do not occur every full moon because the moon's orbit is slightly tilted compared to Earth's orbit around the sun. This means that the moon, Earth, and sun do not always align for an eclipse to happen.

Q: Why do we see lunar eclipses more frequently than solar eclipses?

Lunar eclipses are more visible because the Earth's shadow cast on the moon can be seen by the entire nighttime side of Earth. In contrast, the shadow cast by the moon during a solar eclipse is much smaller and only visible to a small portion of Earth.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Solar eclipses happen when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, blocking the sunlight from reaching Earth.

  • Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, casting its shadow on the lunar surface.

  • Understanding the different phases of the moon can help predict when eclipses will occur, as well as the tides.

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