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The 8 types of eclipse (and how to recognize them)

The 8 types of eclipse (and how to recognize them)

June 20, 2024

The stars and their movements have been from the remotest antiquity cause for wonder and veneration by the human being, often associating them with spirituality and religion. One of them celestial phenomena that have fascinated us most by infrequent and impressive, and that have always enclosed a great symbolism is that of eclipses.

Nowadays it is known as and why they are produced, although they still preserve a certain romantic mysticism. The eclipses continue and will continue to happen in the future, in all its forms.

And is that there are different types of eclipse . In order to learn to identify them, throughout this article we will make a brief review of the main types that we can see from our planet.


  • Related article: "Astrophobia (fear of the stars): symptoms, causes and treatment"

What is an eclipse?

It is understood as an eclipse to the celestial phenomenon in which at least three stars participate, and in which one of them interposes and aligns with the other two in such a way that one of them conceals the view from the other.

Its occurrence is due to the orbit that the planets make around the stars, as well as that of the satellites around the planets , due to the gravitational force.

A meaning in mythology

As we have seen before, the eclipse has historically been linked to the religious and spiritual , since the reasons why the stars disappear from sight or partially hide were not known.


For example, in Chinese mythology the eclipses occurred when a celestial dragon, dogs or even a toad devoured the Sun or the Moon, while the Egyptians saw in this celestial phenomenon the combat between the diodes Horus and Seth (being the loss of the star the result of which the second one will take an eye to the first, being later returned by Ra) or the sinking of the boat of Ra by the snake god Apep.

Kingdoms such as Siam or India also considered that the stars were devoured by gods or dragons. Also in pre-Columbian civilizations they were feared , often making sacrifices to return the Sun or the Moon to their place. The beliefs were many: from the star being devoured to the effect of combats between deities. Also the arrival of the Spaniards to South America happened just after a solar eclipse, something that helped to be initially taken by gods.


Types of eclipse

While there are a large number of types of eclipse that can occur from any planet, those that affect us directly are of two types: solar and lunar. We can also find another type of eclipse, the own planet Venus.

1. Solar eclipses

We call solar eclipse to that cosmic phenomenon in which the Moon interposes between the Sun and the Earth, causing the sun to be invisible from our planet. They are usually the most spectacular and have the greatest impact on humanity. They should never be observed directly , because although the figure and sunlight are not visible, the radiation can affect us as well. We can find different types of solar eclipses.

1.1. Total

They are called total solar eclipses those in which the Moon completely covers the sunlight, totally blocking your view from Earth .

1.2. Partial

The partial solar eclipse occurs when only part of the Moon is aligned between Earth and Sun, a part of the Sun being visible while a portion of this remains blocked by our satellite.

1.3. Cancel

This type of solar eclipse occurs because although the Moon interposes between the Earth and the Sun blocking the vision of the second, its smaller size and the separation between Moon and Earth It causes that although the solar disc is covered by the Moon continues seeing a ring of sunlight around it . The resulting vision would be the prototype of the Moon with a ring and corona of light, as if the center of the Sun had turned black.

1.4. Hybrid

One of the rarest, the hybrid solar eclipse occurs when the alignment between the three celestial bodies makes that in different parts of the globe we can see a total eclipse while in others a partial eclipse.

2. Lunar eclipses

Lunar eclipses occur when there is an alignment between Sun, Earth and Moon, placing our planet between the Sun and the Moon and blocking the passage of sunlight to our satellite . There are three main types of lunar eclipses.

2.1. Total

The total lunar eclipse occurs when our planet completely prevents the sunlight from reaching the Moon. When it happens, the Moon darkens progressively until it disappears completely in the cone of shadow projected by the Earth. Shortly after, he slowly returns to see himself again.

2.2. Partial

The partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon is not completely covered by the Earth or the cone of shadow projected by our planet does not cover its entire vision.

2.3. Penumbral

In penumbral eclipses, the Moon is never obscured by the cone of shadow that our planet projects by aligning itself between it and the Sun, although it does pass through the penumbra zone. This makes although it remains visible its color darkens to a great extent .

2.4. Venusian eclipse: the transit of Venus

Although we do not usually consider it an eclipse, it is also true that other stars can interpose and line up between Earth and the Sun . This is what happens with the so-called transit of Venus, in which our neighboring planet is situated between the Sun and the Earth.

However, the great distance between the Earth and Venus compared to that existing with the Moon, in addition to the relatively small size of said planet compared to ours, makes this type of eclipse very little perceptible, just covering a small point of the Sun. .

In addition, this type of eclipse is very rare, repeating in sequences: 105.5 years, then another at 8, then another at 121.5 years and then another 8, in a cycle of 243 years. The last one was in 2012, and the next one is expected to occur in 2117.


Solar Eclipse 101 | National Geographic (June 2024).


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