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Difference between Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse

Eclipses are astronomical events which occur when a celestial body partially or totally covers another celestial body. There are different types of eclipses; from Earth, we can see two types of eclipses: solar eclipse and lunar eclipse. Let us see how solar eclipse differs from lunar eclipse!

Solar Eclipse:

A solar eclipse is a rare astronomical event that occurs when the moon comes between the Earth and Sun while orbiting the Earth so that the Sun, Moon and Earth are in one line. As the moon comes between the Sun and Earth, It blocks the Sun's light from falling on the Earth's surface and thus the shadow of the moon is created which covers some parts of the earth to cause the solar eclipse. In other words, while orbiting the Earth the moon crosses the sun's plane and comes in front of the sun which obscures its view either partially or completely from the Earth. A solar eclipse occurs during the new moon when moon lies between the Sun and the Earth.

Types of Solar Eclipse:

  • Total Solar Eclipse: It occurs when the new moon completely blocks the Sun while passing between the Sun and Moon and the Sun casts a shadow of the moon on the Earth.
  • Partial Solar Eclipse: It occurs when moon partially covers the Sun and the only penumbra of shadow is cast on the Earth.
  • Annular Solar Eclipse: It occurs when moon travels in front of the Sun and appears smaller than the Sun so does not cover the Sun's disc completely and creates a ring of fire during the eclipse.

Lunar Eclipse:

Lunar Eclipse is the eclipse of the moon. It occurs when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon while orbiting the Sun and blocks the Sun's rays from reaching the moon so that the Earth casts its shadow on the moon. The moon remains behind the Earth and in line with the Sun and the Earth. The moon does not have its own light; it shines because it reflects the light of the Sun. So, when Earth casts its shadow on the moon when it comes between Sun and moon lunar eclipse takes place. It occurs only during the full moon when the moon passes through earth's shadow.

Types of Lunar Eclipse:

  • Total Lunar Eclipse: It occurs when the Earth's shadow completely covers the moon.
  • Partial Lunar Eclipse: It occurs when the Earth's shadow does not completely cover the moon and sunlight partially reaches the moon.
  • Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: It occurs when the Earth blocks some of the Sun's light from reaching the Moon and covers all or some part of the Moon with its outer part of shadow (penumbra).

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between a solar eclipse and lunar eclipse are as follows:

Solar Eclipse Lunar Eclipse
It is the eclipse of the Sun that occurs when the moon comes between Sun and Earth while orbiting the Earth. It is the eclipse of the Moon that occurs when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon while orbiting the Sun.
The Sun's Light is blocked by the moon from falling on the Earth. The Sun's Light is blocked by the Earth from falling on the Moon.
The Moon casts its shadow on the Earth. The Earth casts its shadow on the moon.
It occurs in every 18 months or 1.5 years. It occurs twice a year.
It occurs during the daytime. It occurs during in the night.
Solar eclipse lasts for 5-7 minutes. It lasts for few hours.
It is observed in a small geographical area. It can be observed in a comparatively larger geographical area.
It is not safe to look at the solar eclipse with naked eyes as it may affect your vision. It is safe to look at the lunar eclipse with naked eyes.
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