Shop Windows to the Universe

We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.
This is a diagram of a typical solar eclipse. During a total solar eclipse, the umbra reaches the Earth. During an annular eclipse, it does not. An eclipse occurs when the Moon passes in the path of the Sun and Earth.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original image

Solar Eclipses

An eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Earth passes through the Moon's shadow. A total eclipse of the Sun takes place only during a new moon, when the Moon is directly between the Sun and the Earth.

When a total eclipse does occur, the Moon's shadow covers only a small portion of the Earth, where the eclipse is visible. As the Moon moves in its orbit, the position of the shadow changes, so total solar eclipses usually only last a minute or two in a given location.

In ancient times, people were frightened by solar eclipses (even back then people realized that the Sun was essential to life on Earth). Now eclipses are of great interest to the public and to astronomers. Eclipses provide an opportunity to view the Sun's outer atmosphere, the solar corona.

If you ever get to view a solar eclipse, make sure to never look at the Sun directly! Always use one of these safe techniques.

Last modified April 27, 2006 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Solar Eclipses Were not Always Enjoyed

Eclipses have been watched for centuries, but it was only recently that we understood what really occurs. Eclipses have always been fascinating to watch, but they weren't always welcome. For many years,...more

The Solar Corona

Rising above the Sun's chromosphere , the temperature jumps sharply from a few tens of thousands of kelvins to as much as a few million kelvins in the Sun's outer atmosphere, the solar corona. Understanding...more

A Big Day for the Sun

On Thursday, June 21, 2001, there will be a total eclipse of the Sun. The eclipse will only be visible from parts of Africa and Madagascar. The triple line on the image to the left shows the path of where...more

Last Solar Eclipse of the Millennium on August 11

The last solar eclipse of this millennium occurred on August 11, 1999. Amateurs and scientists witnessed a truly awesome site. This was a total eclipse, which means the Moon completely covered the Sun....more

Lunar Eclipse January 20, 2000

The last lunar eclipse of the millennium in North America is this week! On January 20, 2000, which is Thursday for those living in North America, a total lunar eclipse will occur. A lunar eclipse is different...more

President of Peru Visits Ancient Incan Sites

Peru's new president, Alejandro Toledo, was sworn in on July 28, 2001. The next day he visited Machu Picchu and Cuzco. There were ceremonies at both locations where Toledo asked for the blessing of the...more

Total Solar Eclipse - Coming Soon!

There is a solar eclipse coming to a movie theater near you! Actually, this is better than a theater! This is the real thing! There will be a total solar eclipse on February 26th. The total eclipse will...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF