SOLAR ECLIPSE. One consequence of the Moon's orbit about the Earth is that the Moon can shadow the Sun's light as viewed from the Earth. (2).
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One consequence of the Moon's orbit about the Earth is that the Moon can shadow the Sun's light as viewed from the Earth
The small tilt of the Moon's orbit with respect to the plane of the ecliptic and the small eccentricity of the lunar orbit make such eclipses much less common than they would be otherwise, but partial or total eclipses are actually rather frequent.
Frequency of Eclipses
For example there will be 18 solar eclipses from 1996-2020 for which the eclipse will be total on some part of the Earth's surface.
The common perception that eclipses are infrequent is because the observation of a total eclipse from a given point on the surface of the Earth is not a common occurrence.
Solar eclipses can happen only near a nodal alignment which happens 173.31 days.
Question: The eclipse season for a solar eclipses is 34 days???: this counts total, annular, and partial.
Will there be at least a partial solar eclipse every nodal alignment?
Remember the mean lunar month is about 29.5 days.
Because the lunar month is shorter than the eclipse season, the Moon will be new at some time during the eclipse season.
So yes, there can even be two partial eclipses
Two partial eclipses can occur if one happens right at the beginning of the eclipse season. The Moon can races around the Earth and gets back to new Moon before the eclipse season is over
Two partials is a rare event, but one such event will happen in 2036
Geometry of Solar Eclipses
Types of Solar Eclipses
1. Total Solar Eclipses occur when the umbra of the Moon's shadow touches a region on the surface of the Earth.
Because of the relative sizes of the Moon and Sun and their relative distances from Earth, the path of totality is usually very narrow (hundreds of kilometers across).
2. Partial Solar Eclipses occur when the penumbra of the Moon's shadow passes over a region on the Earth's surface.
3. Annular Solar Eclipses occur when a region on the Earth's surface is in line with the umbra, but the distances are such that the tip of the umbra does not reach the Earth's surface.
In the Path of Totality (the track of the umbra on the Earth's surface) the eclipse will be total, in a band on either side of the path of totality the shadow cast by the penumbra leads to a partial eclipse, and in some eclipses the path of totality extends into a path associated with an annular eclipse because for that part of the path the umbra does not reach the Earth's surface.