Solar Eclipses

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A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and the sun’s light is either partially or fully blocked for a short period of time. When the moon passes between the sun and Earth, it casts a shadow onto Earth’s surface and this is what we see. There are two basic types of a solar eclipse. One is called a total solar eclipse where the moon completely blocks the entire sun. There can be no more than two of these a year. The other kind of solar eclipse is a partial or annular eclipse and this is when only part of the sun is covered by the moon. These can occur up to five times a year.

Because both the Moon and the Earth’s orbits are not perfect circles, the size of the moon in a solar eclipse can vary over the years. At certain points along its path around the Earth, the moon will be different distances from the Earth. This causes the moon to appear smaller than the sun in some eclipses and it will not cover it completely. Also, the Earth’s orbit causes it to be different distances to the sun. This is the same kind of effect and will then make the sun look larger or smaller than the moon.