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Solar Eclipse Definition

A solar eclipse occurs when the view of the Sun from Earth is blocked by the Moon. For example, during a total solar eclipse, the Sun's corona becomes visible.

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Solar & Lunar Eclipses

Fun Facts

  • During a solar eclipse, the Moon cannot be seen because its lighted half is facing the Sun and its dark side faces Earth,
  • Solar eclipses can only occur at new moon phase.
  • The Moon is 400 times smaller but also 400 times closer than the Sun.

Why Do We Need To Know About Solar Eclipse

Learning about solar eclipses helps us understand space better. When a planet moves in front of a star, it blocks some of the star’s light. Astronomers can notice this because the light from the star gets a little dimmer. They use big telescopes, like the Kepler space telescope, to see these changes in light and figure out how big the planet is and how far it is from the star.

This way of studying eclipses has helped find more than 2000 planets, some of which are a lot like Earth. Knowing about eclipses is really important in astronomy because it helps us find planets where life might exist and teaches us more about space. Also, learning about this can lead to many different jobs in space science, like studying the history of our solar system or planning space missions.

Frequently Asked Questions

If the Sun is so much larger in size than the Moon, why do they appear to be the same size?
The Moon is about 400 times smaller than the Sun and about 400 times closer to Earth. Those proportions cause the Sun and the Moon to look about the same size.
Why was it important that Dr. Jeff use a large ball to represent the Sun, a marble to represent Earth, and a bead to represent the Moon in his model?
Although all models have limitations, Dr. Jeff was trying to accurately represent the size of each object in the Earth-Sun-Moon system relative to one another.
How would the Earth-Sun-Moon system change if the Moon’s orbital plane weren’t tilted 5°?
We would have an increase in the number eclipses we can see because of the orbit of the Moon around Earth.
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