You Know You Want to See a Total Eclipse of The Sun – What Is It, Exactly?

During August, 2017 the sky will go dark and the sun will seem to disappear at it is being eclipsed in the direct line between you and the light source. It will be necessary to wear eclipse shades to protect your eyes from the potential damage that could be occurred by looking directly at the sun as you wait for the eclipse to occur. For some individuals, looking at the sun directly, could cause permanent blindness.

Is the Moon Involved?

When a planet falls in a direct line between the sun and the earth and you can only see it as a single black mark, this is called a transit and not an eclipse. You can, over time, observe two different types of eclipses. Solar eclipses involve the sun and lunar eclipses encompass the moon. When the earth, moon and sun are in one direct line, this is called a syzygy. For any observation of the transit or eclipses, it is essential to wear eclipse shades before, during and after the event.

Many centuries ago, cultures invented myths and concerns to explain why the sun or the moon became dark temporarily, because they did not understand the full science that is known in modern times. It was the ancient Greeks that named the term eclipse, which in their language meant to be abandoned or to fail.

Three types of solar eclipses are known. They occur when the Moon moves directly between the Earth and the sun and form a straight line. They are total, partial and annular.

What Is a Total Solar Eclipse?

They are extremely rare and have been seen by very few people across the earth. When you view the sun from the ground, and the moon completely covers any sight of the sun, it is termed a total solar eclipse.

When this does occur, it can only be seen by an area about 100 miles wide. If you are outside of this zone, you may see a partial eclipse of the sun.
When the sun, the moon and the earth are not exactly in a straight line, a partial solar eclipse may be observed as your direct line of sight to the sun will not be completely covered by the moon, but nevertheless, you will need to use professional eclipse shades to watch the event safely.

The moon reflects the sun’s rays and does not show its own light, because it does not have any. Therefore, lunar eclipses occur when the Earth moves between the sun and the moon and blocks the sun’s light being bounced from the moon. This can only occur at the time of the full moon. Like solar eclipses, the Luna version can be total or partial.

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