Solar Eclipse

A solar eclipse takes place when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth and when it is new moon time and the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from the earth.This blocks the sun's rays from reaching the Earth,hence the Sun looks like a black ball.The solar eclipse occurs 2 to 5 times every year.

A total solar eclipse is a natural phenomenon,however it is regarded as a bad omen by many superstitious people. A total solar eclipse which causes darkness during the day time,can be terrifying to people who are ignorant about its astronomical phenomenon.Many people observe fast during the eclipse time and take divine bath after it is over.

It is scientifically believed that the obstructed sunrays,which do not reach the earth,cause pollution during the eclipse time.Hence many people neither consume any food nor begin a new venture.It is strongly and widely believed that direct staring the Sun during eclipse period leads to blindness.Hence people watch the eclipse by using black films.

Types of eclipses

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There are four types of eclipses as follows,-

* Partial eclipse
- This occurs when the Sun and the Moon are not exactly in a line and the moon partially covers the Sun.This eclipse can be seen from many places.

* Hybrid eclipse
- These eclipses are not very common.The Moon seems to cover the full Sun from some parts and partially covered from other parts.

* Annular eclipse
- It occurs when the Sun and Moon are exactly aligned but the size of the moon is apparently smaller.Hence the periphery of the Sun seems illuminous and give s a look of a gold ring. When the Moon is at the longest distance from the Earth there occurs annular eclipse since the Moon does not cover the full surface of the Sun.

* Total eclipse
- It takes place when the Moon completely covers the Sun and only a little brightness appears along the circumference of the solar disc.Also when the Moon is at the closest distance from the Earth,there can be a total eclipse due to the apparently large size of the Moon.On the other side

The Geometry of Solar Eclipse

The sketch below shows the positions of the Sun, Moon and Earth during a solar eclipse.The dark gray region below the Moon is the umbra, from where the Sun is entirely covered by the Moon.The point where the umbra touches the Earth's surface is the place where a total eclipse can be seen.The larger light gray area is the penumbra, in which only a partial and annular eclipses are seen.

As already mentioned above,a solar eclipse can occur only during the new moon time.The distance of the Moon from the Earth goes on changing,hence,the Moon's apparent size varies with its distance from the Earth,leading to the difference between total and annular eclipses.At many times the size of the Moon appears smaller than the Sun,hence maximum times the eclipses are annular.As the Moon comes closer to the Earth,there occurs a total eclipse.