The Solar Eclipse

By William Glasser

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Left to right: total, partial, and annular solar eclipses; Credit https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/hybrid-solar-eclipse.html

On August 21, 2017, across the United States, millions of people stepped outside of their homes to witness the solar eclipse. It was an extraordinary sight that will not happen again until April 8, 2024.

You might be thinking, what is a solar eclipse? A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between Earth and the Sun, and the sun projects its umbra, or shadow, across the Earth. However it is not as simple as it seems, because there are four different types of solar eclipses, total, partial, annular, and hybrid. Here is a little more about them.

A total solar eclipse is when you cannot see any of the sun. It is amazing how it gets much darker and cooler. When in totality the temperature can drop from 1-23O F. The total solar eclipse is the direct path of the moon more than 200,000 miles above.

If you are witnessing an annular solar eclipse you might think it is a total eclipse, but it is not. An annular eclipse is when you are to far away from the moon to not be able to see the sun at all and you see the penumbra, or sun light that passes on to by the moon. Think of it like putting a penny on top of a nickel. It looks like a ring of fire. The longest time to have seen the sun all around the moon is 12 minutes and 30 seconds.

If you are watching a hybrid eclipse, when the moon is furthest away from the Earth (beginning and end), you see an annular eclipse. But when the moon directly covers the sun you see a total eclipse, because the moon is closer to you. It is sometimes referred to as ATA, annular, total, anular.

You probably saw a partial eclipse if you did not travel to see the solar eclipse. A partial eclipse is when the moon passes over the top, bottom, or the sides of the sun. It is most common because you can be with in more than 2,000 miles and still see the partial eclipse.

A solar eclipse happens on Earth about once every 18 months. I can’t wait for 2024 and the next solar eclipse. If you missed the last solar eclipse you definitely should watch it in 2024. It is something that is fun to see and it you cannot really explain why. To me the most amazing part is how scientists can find out when the next solar eclipse is, so far in advance.

Sources:

https://www.space.com/15584-solar-eclipses.html

 

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The Solar Eclipse