SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT What is a solar eclipse?
During a solar eclipse, the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on the Earth.
There are different types of solar eclipses, depending on what portion of the Sun is blocked. Let’s start with the most spectacular version – a total eclipse...
TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE
A total solar eclipse occurs when the face of the Sun is completely blocked. To see this, a person must be standing in the full shadow (umbra) of the Moon.
‘Totality’ is the term used for the exact point in time during a total solar eclipse that the Moon completely covers the Sun. The whole eclipse takes several hours, but the moment of totality lasts only minutes.
An annular solar eclipse occurs when the face of the Sun isn’t quite completely blocked. This makes the Moon look like a dark disk sitting on top of a larger, bright disk. It can also look simply like one brightly shining ring in the sky, hence the name ‘annulus’.
ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE
This effect is also know, more colloquially, as ‘the ring of fire’.
A partial solar eclipse occurs when the face of the Sun is partially blocked. To see this, a person must be standing in the partial shadow (penumbra) of the Moon.
PARTIAL SOLAR ECLIPSE
It essentially looks like a bite has been taken out of the Sun.
A hybrid solar eclipse occurs when, over the course of an eclipse, both annular and total eclipses are seen.
HYBRID SOLAR ECLIPSE