Compare and Contrast Solar and Lunar Eclipses

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  • Topic: Lunar eclipse, Moon, Solar eclipse
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Solar and Lunar Eclipses 1

Differences Between Solar and Lunar Eclipses

Joe Straboni

ENG 121 English Composition I

Instructor: Jared Kline

August 14, 2011

Solar and Lunar Eclipses 2

Ever since the dawn of man there have been eclipses of the sun and moon. These celestial events struck fear into ancient man. They did not realize that all it is was the shadow of the earth or moon being cast on something. The following essay discusses the difference between the two.

A solar eclipse can occur at least two and no more than five times a year.

Unlike Solar eclipses, lunar eclipses can only occur during a full moon and when the moon is on the ecliptic plane. Only during full moon, the Sun’s light will be blocked. Solar eclipses can only occur during a new moon and when the moon is on the ecliptic plane. This is the time when the moon’s shadow casts on the Earth. The total phase of a lunar eclipse can last for 90 minutes or more. The maximum time a lunar eclipse can last is three hours and forty minutes. The total phase of a solar eclipse may last only a few minutes. The maximum time for a total solar eclipse is seven minutes and forty seconds.

Lunar eclipses can occur up to three times a year. The number of lunar eclipses per calendar year can vary from two to five if penumbral lunar eclipses are counted. In a penumbral lunar eclipse, the Moon only passes through the lighter, penumbra or outer part of the Earth's shadow. Since penumbral eclipses are often inconspicuous, the number of conspicuous lunar eclipses can range from zero to three each calendar year.

The three celestial bodies involved in a lunar or solar eclipse are the Earth, Sun, and Moon. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Earth. The result Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, blocking all or a portion of the Sun.

Solar and Lunar Eclipses 3

An eclipse can be total, partial, or annular. A total solar eclipse is when the moon blocks out the Sun entirely, a partial eclipse is when it blocks out a portion of the Sun, and an annular eclipse is when the moon is at its furthest point in orbit. It will not cover the Sun completely that's when you can see a thin ring of light emerging from the outside rim of the moon.

Lunar eclipse and solar eclipse are different. A lunar eclipse occurs at night and a solar eclipse occurs during the day. There are only certain times when either of them can occur. A lunar eclipse can only occur when the moon is directly opposite the Sun in the sky. This is called a full moon. Even though there is a full moon each month, obviously a lunar eclipse does not occur on a monthly basis because the Sun isn't exactly in line with the Earth and the moon. The moon's orbit is actually tilted five degrees more than that of the Earth; otherwise, we would see a lunar eclipse each month.

We can see lunar eclipses more readily than solar eclipses, and it has to do with proximity. The Moon is much closer to the Earth (well over three hundred times closer than the Sun.), so the Earth has a much greater chance of blocking sunlight to the Moon, compared to the Moon blocking light from the Sun. Also, a lunar eclipse can be seen from a greater portion of the Earth. Solar eclipses, on the other hand, are rarer and when they do happen can only be seen by a very narrow segment of people on Earth, for a short period of time.

It is very safe to watch a lunar eclipse with the unaided eye. You can use a telescope or binoculars to get a clearer view of the moon during an eclipse. It is unsafe to watch a

Solar and Lunar Eclipses 4

solar eclipse of any kind. The ultraviolet light can damage your eyes.

A solar eclipse has always had a more...
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