Eclipse.What is it, how does it occur and what types of solar eclipses are there?
The solar eclipse is a spectacular astronomical phenomenon that has always had an impact on humans. In antiquity, a solar eclipse was seen as a sign of plagues, calamities and often the end of the world. Today we know what this phenomenon is and we are able to predict when it will happen. In 2021, we will be able to observe two such phenomena: June 10 and December 4. What is a solar eclipse, what is the longest total solar eclipse, and what else should we know about it?
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1. What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon, Earth and Sun are aligned. In this configuration, the Moon must be centered between the Earth and the Sun, which results in the Moon obscuring the Sun's disc. For this to happen, the moon must be new.
If the sun is completely obscured by the moon and we can only see the solar corona, we are dealing with a total solar eclipse. As soon as the lunar disk completely covers the disk of the sun, the entire observation site becomes dark.
The longest possible duration of a total solar eclipse is 7 minutes and 31 seconds. How to observe them? Viewing this phenomenon "with the naked eye" may result in permanent eye damage. To prevent this from happening, we have many different tools at our disposal to observe a solar eclipse.
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2. How is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse occurs only on a new moon, when the moon is exactly between the earth and the sun in a straight line. If the Moon were in an exactly circular orbit, closer to the Earth and in the same ecliptic plane, a solar eclipse would occur at a new moon anyway.
However, the Moon's orbit is tilted 5 ° to the orbit of the Sun, which usually causes the Moon's shadow to pass the Earth. For an eclipse to occur, the orbit of our natural satellite must cross the orbit of the Earth.
In addition, the moon's orbit is elliptical, which is why it is sometimes too far away from the Earth for its size to completely cover the sun's disc. Both orbits intersect on the nodal lines, which results in two to five eclipses a year (a maximum of two of them can be complete).
In addition, total eclipses occur much less frequently for specific places on Earth, because the total shadow belt is extremely narrow.
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3. What are the types of a solar eclipse?
We can distinguish 4 types of solar eclipses:
- total eclipse - in this case, the moon completely covers the surface of the solar disk; since the angular size of the Moon is not much larger than the size of the Sun, its surface is obscured, the sun's corona remains visible, and the phenomenon occurs through the gradual overlapping of the Moon's image on the solar disk; an interesting fact is that in about 560 million years a total solar eclipse will no longer be possible, because each year our natural satellite moves away from the Earth by about 4 cm - after that time it will not be able to cover the solar disk;
- partial eclipse - to be able to see it, the observer must be in the penumbra of the sun;
- annular eclipse - the moon is not able to completely cover the sun's disc, and its shadow is not cast on the Earth;
- hybrid eclipse - it occurs the rarest, it is characterized by a quick transition from the complete to the partial phase; an observer in the center of the eclipse belt can see a total eclipse, a person observing it at the edge of this belt will only see an annular eclipse.