Magic of Eclipses

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes in between the path of sunlight and the Earth, casting a shadow on the Earth. Solar eclipses in general are quite rare (only a couple a year), but the moon’s shadow only covers a small portion of the Earth so seeing one is an amazing opportunity. A total solar eclipse, in which the sun is fully blocked by the moon, is even more rare occurring about every year and a half somewhere on Earth. One particular spot on Earth can expect to see a solar eclipse for just a few minutes every 375 years. The next solar eclipse will be on June 21, 2020 and can be seen in a tight strip spanning Africa and Asia. A total solar eclipse will occur on December 14, 2020 and be visible from parts of Chile and Argentina.

A lunar eclipse occurs as the Earth gets in the way of sunlight hitting the moon. The moon turns dark as the Earth’s shadow covers it up. Earth’s atmosphere can make the moon appear red during the eclipse as other colors are absorbed. Lunar eclipses are also very rare due to the tilt of Earth axis causing the Earth, sun, and moon to not line up perfectly every month. Penumbral lunar eclipses are more common than total lunar eclipses and occur when the moon crosses through the large and faint outer part of Earth’s shadow. The next lunar eclipse will be visible from June 5-6, 2020 across Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia. A total lunar eclipse will be visible on May 26, 2021 in parts of the western US, western South America, and south-east Asia.

Published by Rehan John

Student at Vanderbilt University

4 thoughts on “Eclipses!

  1. Eclipses are definitely one of the cooler astronomical events that we get to see with our naked eye, especially a solar eclipse. I don’t know if you were at Vandy in August 2017 when a total solar eclipse was visible from campus but it was definitely one of the great moments at Vandy. One of the interesting things you pointed out was the frequency of total eclipses, how they are few and far between. I wish they would happen more often, but I guess that’s what makes them so special. Imagine if other astronomical events, like supernovae, were visibly dramatic with the naked eye like a total solar eclipse. I guess that’s what makes astronomy so interesting though with its ability to analyze, investigate, and SEE all of these events.


  2. This post was interesting because I didn’t know about the commonality of eclipses nor that some types of lunar and solar eclipses happen more often than others. Your documentation of when the next eclipses will occur reminds me how some people will travel around the world specifically to “chase eclipses” and see as many as they can. Maybe I’ll try to go see the 2021 total lunar eclipse in the Western U.S. – I think it would be a fun adventure.


  3. Hi Rehan! I think eclipses are actually super cool and it’s really interesting that one occurs every year and a half or so somewhere on Earth. I was a bit confused on the one particular spot on Earth seeing a solar eclipse for a few minutes every 375 years – are you talking about like the same path only repeats once every 375 years? Overall, great post!


  4. I sure would like to see the red sunset on the Moon during a lunar eclipse. But what would the Moon residents call it from there? A total eclipse?


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