A solar eclipse is when the Moon passes between the Earth and the sun, creating a total eclipse. A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes into its shadow.
Solar eclipses are rarer than lunar eclipses. Some people think that this is because lunar eclipses happen around the full Moon, which is more critical for us to avoid due to increased supernatural activity at that time.
1. The Shadow Path
The Moon’s shadow is curved and more round rather than straight. The solar eclipse has a clear path and is divided into two parts: the umbra and the penumbra. The umbra is the darkest part of the shadow, while the penumbra is lighter but still dark.
A lunar eclipse’s shadow forms a cone that gradually increases in width until it reaches its maximum width when it passes over Earth’s main land masses before finally shrinking to nothing again. Eclipse-wise, this can be seen as similar to a full moon, which starts small and grows until becoming full before sinking back down in size.
A solar eclipse is a visible totality of the sun’s disk; however, it is only 14 seconds in duration at any one place on Earth. Like all celestial bodies, the eclipse has a shadow, and when the Moon completely blocks this shadow, we say there is totality. The Moon’s umbral shadow is surrounded by darkness that allows people to see the corona (the sun’s atmosphere). This is similar to a full moon, which we have named due to its intrinsic beauty and radiance.
The time of totality also differs from twenty seconds to seven and a half minutes, depending on the eclipse. Also, the Moon is not always at its closest distance to Earth during a full moon. The difference between a solar and a lunar eclipse is that a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon comes directly between the sun and us meaning that the sun’s light can only reach us when that part of the Moon is in position. Therefore, during a solar eclipse, we see only one side of any two-sided object; we cannot see any stars in totality as they are too far away for it to happen.
3. Time of the Eclipse
The time of the eclipse is different for each eclipse. The lunar eclipse can be seen at night, which means that we can see it when we sleep, and some eclipses occur during the daytime. Solar eclipses happen during the day, so some people stay home from work or school to watch them.
A solar eclipse usually occurs during an equinox; however, it can also happen at solstices. There is an exception to this rule, with a solar eclipse occurring in May 1998 during a full Moon instead of an equinox (Mar. 29th, 1998).
A lunar eclipse is visible from anywhere on Earth where the Moon is visible at that time so that totality can be seen from any part of the world. With a solar eclipse, a total solar eclipse can only be seen from where it happens to occur. One solar eclipse’s totality lasts about 4 minutes (at most). With solar eclipses, viewers must wear proper eye protection to avoid damage from the rays.
5. Lasting Time
The duration of the eclipse is similar to a solar or lunar eclipse. However, the length of total solar eclipses varies much more than lunar eclipses because they last longer when the Moon crosses Earth’s shadow.