Crazy Solar Eclipse Facts
Crazy Solar Eclipse Facts

25 Astronomical Solar Eclipse Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published September 16, 2019
  • There are four types of solar eclipses: a total eclipse, an annular eclipse, a hybrid eclipse, and a partial eclipse.[3]
  • It takes about 90% coverage of the Sun for us to notice any darkening during a solar eclipse. Even at 99%, the sky is no darker than civil twilight.[3]
  • The Earth is about 400 times the Moon's distance from the Sun, and the diameter is about 400 times larger than the Moon's. This makes it look like the Sun and the Moon are about the same size, so when the Moon passes in front of the Sun, it blocks the light.[3]
  • A solar eclipse is known as "occultation," from the Latin "to hide, conceal."[3]
  • Solar Eclipse History
    Solar eclipses were often seen as a sign of impending doom and disaster
  • The word "eclipse" is Greek for "abandonment" or "downfall."[2]
  • There are about two to five solar eclipses each year.[6]
  • The Moon travels in front of the Sun at approximately 1,398 mph (2,250 km).[6]
  • There is never a total solar eclipse at the north and south poles.[6]
  • A total solar eclipse usually lasts about 7 minutes and 30 seconds.[6]
  • The cycle and recurrence of eclipses is determined by the Saros cycle, which is about 18 years and 11 days. The word "Saros" is from the Greek word "saros," meaning to "repeat."
  • A Canadian astronomer named J. W. Campbell traveled around the world for 50 years to try to see twelve different eclipses. Unfortunately, he ran into overcast skies every time.[5]
  • Umbraphile Facts
    A person who chases eclipses is called an “umbraphile,” which means “shadow lover”

  • The Moon is slowly moving away from Earth, which means that in about 1 million years, a solar ecilipse will be impossible.[3]
  • Solar eclipses recur in the same place only once every 360–410 years on average.[3]
  • Thales of Miletus predicted an eclipse that happened during a battle between the Medes and the Lydians. After the eclipse, they put down their weapons and declared peace.[2]
  • The first known telescopic observation of a total solar eclipse happened in France in 1706.[2]
  • Oracle Bones
    The earliest recording of solar eclipses are believed to be on Chinese oracle bones
  • The Book of Joshua offers what many historians believe to be one of the first recorded instances of a solar eclipse, which occured on October 30, 1207 BC.[1]
  • Even the tiniest sliver of the Sun can burn a person's eyes. People who have looked at the Sun during an eclipse actually had crescents burned into the back of the eye.[7]
  • Eclipse blindness usually does not occur immediately after staring at the Sun. A person may go to sleep that night and wake up unable to see clearly or not at all.[7]
  • Eclipses only occur during a new or full moon.[6]
  • Eclipses don't happen just on Earth; Jupiter's moons, for example, experience eclipses similar to Earth's.[4]
  • China produced the first known recordings of solar eclipses in about 1050 BC. They were inscribed on pieces of bones and shells that were called "oracle bones."[2]
  • The Sun has a white corona that is only visible on Earth during a solar eclipse.[4]
  • A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes in front of the Sun and casts a shadow across the Earth.[6]
  • Theory of Relativity
    A solar eclipse helped prove Einstein's theory of relativity

  • In Hindu mythology, it is believed that serpent demons named Rahu and Ketu swallow the Sun to stifle the light that gives life. Some Hindu communities bang pots and pans or light fireworks during an eclipse to scare away the demons .[3]
  • In Korean folklore, it is believed that a dog stealing the Sun causes a solar eclipse.[4]

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