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Difference between total eclipse and partial eclipse

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For the uninitiated, a total lunar eclipse takes place when the Earth comes between the sun and the moon blocking sun’s rays from lighting up the moon whereas a solar eclipse or surya grahan takes place when the moon passes in a direct line between the earth and the sun and the moon’s shadow travels above the Earth’s surface while the sun’s light (as seen from earth) is blocked out. In simple words, lunar eclipses happen when the moon is near a node at full moon whereas solar eclipses occur when it is near a node at new moon. 

However, a partial solar eclipse is one where the Earth moves through the lunar penumbra as the moon travels between the earth and the sun and it is referred to as ‘partial’ because the moon does not block the entirety of the sun, when witnessed from the Earth. On the other hand, a partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth moves between the sun and the full moon but they are not precisely aligned since only a part of the moon’s visible surface moves into the dark part of the Earth’s shadow called the umbra, whereas the rest of the moon is covered by the outer part of the Earth’s shadow called the penumbra. 

For sky and celestial body lovers, we have exciting news – this year marks four eclipses; two of the sun and two of the moon. A partial solar eclipse took place on Saturday, April 30, 2022 which involved the second of two new moons in the month of April, colloquially known as a “Black Moon” and this partial solar eclipse was a result of the moon’s outer shadow, or penumbra, scraping a part of the Southern Hemisphere.

The first of the two total lunar eclipses this year will start at 7:02 am IST on May 16, 2022 morning and end at 12:20 PM. NASA will be livestreaming it on its YouTube channel as it will only be visible from Rome, New York, Brussels, Guatemala City, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Havana, Chicago, Johannesburg, Mexico City, Lagos, Detroit, Madrid, San Francisco, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Washington DC, Lisbon among others while Ankara, Budapest, Cairo, Athenes and Honolul.

Though sky gazers in India will not be able to see it, since the moon will be below the horizon during this eclipse, another opportunity will be available to marvel at the blood moon later this year, on November 8, 2022.


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