The Solar System

How do solar and lunar eclipses occur?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. Solar and lunar eclipses are dependent on the alignment of the sun, moon and Earth. When the moon is aligned exactly between the Earth and the sun, the shadow of the moon blocks the sun from view. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the shadow of the Earth. If the moon passes through the darkest part of the Earth's shadow, the umbra, there is a total eclipse, which can last up to half an hour. If the moon only passes through the penumbra (the outer, lighter part of the shadow) then we see a partial eclipse.

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