An eclipse (solar or lunar) involves three celestial bodies namely, the sun, the moon and the earth. Solar and lunar eclipses are natural events when the lights of the sun and the moon are partially or completely hidden from view for a brief period of time.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, completely or partially hiding the sun for a period of time. A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the moon and the sun, casting its shadow on the moon and thus completely or partially hiding it for a period of time. The science behind eclipses is quite intriguing and astonishing. Here we compare solar and lunar eclipses and learn how they differ from each other.
Differences between solar eclipse and lunar eclipse (Surya Grahan vs Chandra Grahna)
|Solar eclipse (Surya Grahan)||Lunar eclipse (Chandra Grahan)|
|A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun.||A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the moon and the sun.|
|During a solar eclipse, the moon partially or completely masks the sun’s rays for a few minutes.||During a lunar eclipse, the earth’s shadow partially or totally obscures the moon for a brief period of time.|
|It happens once every 18 months.||Occurs twice a year.|
|The three types of solar eclipses are the total solar eclipse, partial solar eclipse, and annular solar eclipse.||The three types of lunar eclipses are the total lunar eclipse, the partial lunar eclipse, and a penumbral lunar eclipse.|
|The solar eclipse is only visible from a few places.||Lunar eclipses are spotted in many places.|
|Happens for a day||Occurs overnight|
|A solar eclipse occurs on a new moon day.||A lunar eclipse occurs on a full moon day.|
|It is not safe to see a solar eclipse with the naked eye. You need protective glasses to prevent damage to the eyes.||It is perfectly safe to see a lunar eclipse with the naked eye. You don’t need any protective coating to see it.|
Solar and lunar eclipses: some interesting points
A lunar eclipse can only occur when the moon is directly opposite the sun in the sky with the earth in between. This position occurs every full moon day month after month. However, we do not see a lunar eclipse on every full moon day because the sun is not precisely aligned with the earth and the moon, and the moon’s orbit around the earth is tilted about 5 degrees. Therefore, a lunar eclipse only occurs twice a year.
Since the moon is 300 times closer to the earth than the sun. Therefore, the chances of the earth blocking sunlight falling on the moon are greater than the moon blocking sunlight. This is why solar eclipses are less numerous than lunar eclipses. The duration of lunar eclipses is longer than that of solar eclipses. Lunar eclipses can be seen from many places while solar eclipses can only be seen from a limited number of places on earth.