How exactly does a solar eclipse work

Solar eclipse

This is not the crescent moon, but the sun during a partial solar eclipse.
The more sun is covered, the darker it becomes on earth.

When there is a solar eclipse, the moon, when viewed from the earth, is pushed completely or partially in front of the sun. The sun is partially covered by the moon or can no longer be seen at all. During a solar eclipse, it becomes pitch dark for a short time, even though it is actually day.

The sun and moon look about the same size in the sky. The reason for this is as follows: the sun is about 400 times larger than the moon, but it happens to be 400 times as far away. The moon disk in the sky can even completely cover the solar disk if both are exactly in one line: This is called a total solar eclipse.

During a solar eclipse, the moon stands between the earth and the sun. The moon casts its shadow on part of the earth. The people who are there in the shade see the solar eclipse. From other parts of the world you can only see part of the sun covered. The solar eclipse there is called partial or "partial". The solar eclipse cannot be seen where there is no shadow of the moon on the earth. It's a completely normal day there.

A lunar eclipse is similar to the solar eclipse. Here, however, the earth stands between the moon and the sun.

How can you watch a solar eclipse?

You can only watch a solar eclipse with certain glasses.

The sun is very bright. That is why you can no longer look into them without hurting your eyes or even going blind. Even normal sunglasses are not enough if you want to look closely into the sun for a longer period of time. Anyone who wants to watch the moon slide in front of the sun therefore needs a very specific type of glasses, solar eclipse glasses.

Another possibility is the sun projection. You make sure that you don't see the sun itself, but on a projection. You catch the light with a telescope, but don't look into it, but let the light cast onto a surface, for example made of cardboard.

Finally, there are observatories where you can safely observe the solar eclipse. In addition, some websites set up special cameras and show the solar eclipse very clearly and without danger to the eyes.

How common are solar eclipses?

A photo from Paris in 1921: These three women are looking at a solar eclipse with tinted glasses.

Worldwide, a total solar eclipse occurs every one to two years. But in a certain area that happens very rarely. This was last the case in Germany in 1999.

The next partial eclipse in Germany will be on August 21, 2017. However, the moon then only just touches the sun disk, you will probably not notice anything. It will then be darker in the following eclipse in 2021. Then there will be a few more partial solar eclipses, but the next total solar eclipse will not occur again until September 3, 2081 in southern Germany.


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