Causes of solar and lunar eclipses and the process of their occurrence

Illustration of an annular solar eclipse. ©2019 – Eclipses are one of the most awaited astronomical phenomena. An eclipse occurs when one celestial body moves into the shadow of another celestial body. There are two types of eclipses that occur on earth, namely solar eclipses and lunar eclipses.

The cause of a solar eclipse is because the moon is between the sun and the earth. This occurs when the moon’s shadow cone intersects the Earth’s surface, and can be observed by anyone within this shadow zone.

Slightly different from the cause of a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse occurs when the earth is between the sun and the moon. This phenomenon can be seen by everyone on earth who is under the moon while it is above the horizon. A lunar eclipse occurs at a full moon, and when the moon is near one of the points of intersection between its orbit and the plane of the ecliptic.

Either a solar eclipse or a lunar eclipse, both are extraordinary phenomena that are interesting to discuss. For that, we will discuss more about what causes solar and lunar eclipses and other discussions related to eclipses.

Belief about Eclipse

For thousands of years, solar and lunar eclipses have fascinated humans. Different cultures around the world try to understand the astronomical events that occur in the sky through stories and rituals.

Yes, ancient cultures had different beliefs about the causes of solar and lunar eclipses. In some cultures, eclipses are frightening celestial events, which carry omens of evil.


© ABC Houston

Reporting from, the ancient Chinese believed that a dragon devoured the sun during a solar eclipse. Similar beliefs about sun-swallowing monsters exist among Africans, Asians, Europeans, and Native Americans.

In an attempt to scare away dragons or monsters, ancient people would gather together to shout or ring instruments or objects to create a loud, thunderous sound. Among the ancient Greeks, Chinese, Mayans and Arabs, legends associated lunar eclipses with earthquake earth, plagues, and other disasters.

And now, scientists have a much firmer understanding of the astronomical factors that cause solar and lunar eclipses. The cause of solar and lunar eclipses occurs due to changes in the position of the earth, sun and moon in relation to each other.

Solar eclipse

Reporting from, sometimes when the moon orbits the earth, the moon moves between the sun and the earth. When this happens, the moon blocks sunlight from reaching the earth. This is what causes a solar eclipse to occur. During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow on the earth.

There are three main types of solar eclipses:

  • Total solar eclipse: A total solar eclipse is visible from a small area of ​​the earth. People who see a total eclipse are in the middle of the moon’s shadow when it hits the earth. The sky became very dark, like night. For a total eclipse to occur, the sun, moon and earth must be in a straight line.
  • Partial solar eclipse: The cause of a partial solar eclipse is due to the misalignment of the sun, moon and earth. This phenomenon makes the sun appear to have a dark shadow on a small part of its surface.
  • Annular solar eclipse (an-yə-lər): An annular eclipse occurs when the moon is at its furthest point from the earth. Because the moon is farther away, the moon appears smaller. It cannot block the entire view of the sun. The moon in front of the sun looks like a dark disk on top of a larger bright disk. This creates what looks like a ring around the Moon.

Moon eclipse

The moon moves in an orbit around the earth. At the same time, the earth orbits the sun. Sometimes the earth moves between the sun and the moon. When this happens, the earth blocks the sunlight that is normally reflected by the moon (it is this sunlight that causes the moon to shine.) Instead of light hitting the moon’s surface, Earth’s shadow falls on the moon. As a result, there is a lunar eclipse. And the phenomenon of a lunar eclipse can only occur during a full moon.

Lunar eclipses can be seen from the earth at night. There are two types of lunar eclipses:

  • Total lunar eclipse.
  • Partial lunar eclipse.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon and sun are on opposite sides of the earth. Even though the moon is in the earth’s shadow, some of the sun’s rays reach the moon. Sunlight passes through Earth’s atmosphere, which filters out most of the blue light. This makes the Moon appear red to people on earth.

A partial lunar eclipse occurs when part of the moon enters Earth’s shadow. In a partial eclipse, the Earth’s shadow appears very dark on the side of the moon that faces Earth. What people see from Earth during a lunar eclipse depends in part on how the sun, earth, and moon are aligned.

Lunar eclipses usually last for several hours. At least two partial lunar eclipses can occur each year.


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