Eclipse alludes to the blocking of light from an astronomical object by the passage of another amidst it. It is an event in which three celestial bodies, i.e. the sun, moon and earth are in tandem. When the moon is in the middle of sun and earth, a solar eclipse occurs, and if the earth is in between sun and moon, it is the case of the lunar eclipse.
The reason for the occurrence of the eclipse is that there are two points where the orbit of the moon passes through sun’s plane called as nodes. When the earth travels along its orbit, these points are in alignment with the sun, and it happens about two times in a year. Read out this article to have a better understanding of the difference between solar eclipse and lunar eclipse.
Content: Solar Eclipse Vs Lunar Eclipse
|Basis for Comparison||Solar Eclipse||Lunar Eclipse|
|Meaning||Solar eclipse is the one in which sun is blocked by the moon.||Lunar eclipse refers to the eclipse in which moon appears dim, as it passes into earths shadow.|
|Position||Moon lies between sun and earth||Earth lies between sun and moon|
|Frequency||Once in every eighteen months.||Twice a year|
|Occurence||Occurs during day||Occurs during night|
|Phase||New moon||Full moon|
|Duration||5-7 minutes||An hour|
|Appearance||Appears in some places only.||Appears in many places.|
Definition of Solar Eclipse
Solar Eclipse, as the name suggest, is the shadowing of the sun by the moon. It takes place when the moon crosses the sun’s plane while orbiting the earth and comes in front of the sun, which obscures its view either partly or entirely.
Thus, it ultimately blocks the sunlight from falling on earth and due to which some parts of the earth are under the moon’s shadow and causes the solar eclipse. This event occurs only during the new moon when the moon is amid the sun and the earth. You can see the figure given below:
There are three types of solar eclipse:
- Total Solar Eclipse: When the moon fully covers the Sun, and its umbra and penumbra are casted on Earth, then it is called as the total solar eclipse.
- Partial Solar Eclipse: If the moon covers only a part of the Sun and only its penumbra is casted on Earth, then this is known as Partial Lunar Eclipse.
- Annular Solar Eclipse: It is the situation when moon’s disc covers the center if the sun’s disc and its antumbra are casted on Earth.
Definition of Lunar Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse, in simplest terms, can be described as the eclipse of the moon, in which it is behind the earth and forms a perfect alignment with sun and earth. We all know the fact that the moon does not have its own light, and reflects the light of the sun. So, when the earth moves between the sun and the moon, while orbiting the sun, the lunar eclipse takes place, in which the earth casts its shadow on the moon.
Therefore, it ultimately blocks the sunlight from falling on the moon, due to which moon appears darkened. This appears only during the full moon when it passes through earth’s shadow, i.e. umbra or penumbra. You can see the figure provided below:
- Total Lunar Eclipse: When the earth completely covers the moon and blocks the light from reaching the moon, it is called as the total lunar eclipse.
- Partial Lunar Eclipse: Partial lunar eclipse is when the moon enters the earth’s umbra, but not completely, such that the sunlight partially reaches the moon.
- Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: This occurs when the moon enters the penumbra of the earth, but sunlight reaches it because this region is not fully obscured from sun rays.
Key Differences Between Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse
The difference between the solar eclipse and lunar eclipse can be drawn clearly on the following premises:
- A solar eclipse is described as the eclipse of the sun, i.e. in which sun is obscured by the moon. On the other hand, lunar eclipse implies the eclipse in which moon appears dim, as it passes into earth’s shadow.
- In the solar eclipse, the position of the three celestial bodies is sun, moon, and earth. Conversely, in the case of lunar eclipse, the position of these are the sun, earth, and moon.
- A solar eclipse occurs in every 18 months, i.e. 1.5 years. As against, the lunar eclipse which takes place twice a year.
- As solar eclipse is the sun’s eclipse, it occurs during day time. In contrast, the lunar eclipse occurs in the night, because it’s a moon’s eclipse.
- The solar eclipse happens in the new moon phase, but lunar eclipse occurs during the full moon.
- Solar eclipse lasts for 5-7 minutes, whereas lunar eclipse lasts for few hours.
- A solar eclipse can be observed only in a small area, while lunar eclipse can be noticed in the comparatively larger area.
- If one sees solar eclipse directly, i.e. through naked eyes, then there is a risk of loss in visibility as it damages the retina. On the contrary, it is safe to see lunar eclipse through bare eyes.
We all are aware of the fact that earth revolves around the sun and the moon revolves around the earth. Due to this, there are certain times in a year, when these three are in tandem and forms and the exact and almost straight line called as Syzygy.