The solar eclipse happens when the moon’s passing through the same line between the sun and the earth completely or partially blocks the sun.
Solar eclipse is one of those super-stunts that are performed by our solar system at times forcing the entire world to delve deeper into its study. We all often see a lot of hype by media on TV and social media whenever there’s a solar eclipse. What is this solar eclipse? Keep calm as we’ll discuss all the interesting facts about it.
Interesting facts about Solar Eclipse
A solar eclipse is an occurrence involving our Earth, the Moon and the Sun. The solar system comprises planets that revolve and rotate in their fixed orbits around the Sun which causes days and nights and the seasons etc. All the planets have different and separate moons. Some of them have even more than a single moon. For example Jupiter has 63 moons as per a recent finding, where we’ve studied all our lives that it had 16 moons. Venus and Mercury in contrast have no moons at all. Needless to say, the Earth has one moon. Coming back to the topic, a solar eclipse occurs when there’s an alignment of the Earth, the Moon and the Sun in the same plane, just like they’re all standing in a queue, however their sizes are different with the Sun being the greatest of all. The Moon comes in between the Earth and the Sun and covers the Sun completely or partially from the Earth.
A solar eclipse can be of 4 types:
Total Solar Eclipse
It’s possible for the Moon to cover the entire Sun from the Earth despite having 400 times smaller diameter than the Sun because of its proximity to the Earth which makes the Moon 400 times closer to the Earth. It gives rise to two types of shadows namely the umbra and penumbra. The umbra blocks the entire sunlight from reaching the Earth, and it is cone-shaped. The penumbra is another shadow which surrounds the umbra and it’s more like a funnel in shape making it partially blocking the sunlight.
A total solar eclipse stays for a few minutes. As per NASA, the longest ever total solar eclipse lasted for 7 minutes only.
Since the Sun completely hides behind the Moon, the total solar eclipse can barely be seen from the Earth’s surface.
Partial Solar Eclipse
When the Moon doesn’t fully cover the Sun’s disk, it becomes a partial solar eclipse. It’s caused by the Moon’s penumbra. Under this type of eclipse, the Sun is partially visible which makes it more likely to be seen from various parts of the Earth. However, the far off places like extreme North and South Poles are unlikely to view the partial solar eclipse because they’re mostly out of the zone of the penumbra.
Annular Solar Eclipse
The annular solar eclipse is also like the total one. But the Moon in this case is a little smaller to cover the Sun completely when it’s far from the Earth. As a result, the Umbra fails to reach the Earth completely and a ring of fire is seen around the Moon from the regions where the Umbra doesn’t reach. The longest duration for an annual solar eclipse recorded is 12 min 30 sec.
Hybrid solar Eclipse
It’s a combination of both the annular and total solar eclipse. Initially the Earth escapes a portion of the umbra which gives rise to an annular eclipse, later the Earth somehow covers the umbra and the whole disk of the Sun is covered. This is when it becomes a total solar eclipse. The chances for an annular eclipse to turn into a hybrid one are rare. Only 5% of the solar eclipses are hybrid, whereas the percentages of total, partial and annular are 28%, 35% and 32% respectively.
Some Key Facts about Solar Eclipse
- 2 to 5 solar eclipses can occur each year, which depends on the geometrical position of the Earth, Moon and the Sun.
- Totality happens when the moon’s position fully obscures the Sun, and we can only see the solar corona.
- Totality can occur once in every 1 or 2 years.
- Totality can last for maximum 7.5 minutes.
- More or less, identical solar eclipses happen after eighteen years and eleven days.
- When the totality happens, conditions in the totality’s path can quickly change such as dropping of air temperature, and immediately the area becoming dark.