A lunar and solar eclipse are amazing events. These phenomenons are especially exciting for children. Learn all about a solar and lunar eclipse and how to enjoy one with your whole family!
A solar eclipse - also called sun eclipse - occurs when the disk of the moon appears to cross in front of the disk of the sun. If the moon is blocking 100 percent of the solar disk, it is called a total solar eclipse. If the moon is only covering a part of the sun, it is a partial solar eclipse.
In 2019 only one partial solar eclipse occurred on January 5. It could be seen only from parts of Eastern Asia and the Pacific Region. In 2020 there will be a total solar eclipse on December 14 that can be seen especially from South America, Antarctica, and other parts of the southern hemisphere. If you're living in the Virginia Beach area, you will have to wait a little longer. The next partial solar eclipse can be seen here on June 10, 2021.
Watching a solar eclipse is an amazing event, but it can be dangerous. If you want to observe such a partial or total eclipse, you should take care of your eyes because looking directly at the sun can lead to blindness. Also, other forms of permanent eye damage are possible. So make sure you wear proper eye protection. For example, special safety goggles, which can protect your eyes with solar filters. These special glasses will protect your eyes from harmful ultra-violet rays, infrared rays, and intense visible light.
You can also use a cereal box and tinfoil to make a fun activity for kids and a safe way to watch the eclipse. While this can work, it sadly isn't nearly as effective as the specialty glasses.
Many people believe that sunglasses are able to do the same, but that is incorrect. Observing a solar eclipse through your sunglasses will definitely harm your eyes.
A lunar eclipse (or moon eclipse) occurs at night when the full moon enters the shadow of the Earth. This shadow is divided into three parts: Umbra, penumbra, and antumbra with the first two playing important roles when it comes to eclipses. The umbra is the darkest part of the Earth's shadow. From there, viewers experience a total lunar eclipse. In the penumbra, only a bit of the light is consumed leading to the phenomenon of a partial lunar eclipse.
Lunar eclipses are also linked to the blood moon phenomenon. The moon turns red while entering the umbra of Earth, so it looks similar to the color of blood.
In comparison to a solar eclipse, you do not need any kind of special glasses to enjoy a partial or total lunar eclipse, because looking directly into the moon won't harm your eyes. But in order to see as much as possible, you should go to a higher location outside of the city. Every extra light source makes it more difficult to see the moon during an eclipse.
Talk to your children before and during a total sun eclipse so they're prepared. They probably won't know about the danger. Explain what is happening, because darkness during the day may confuse or scare them. While it's important to know the risks, make this a fun event you can enjoy with your family. Get some eclipse glasses, or make your own goggles. Maybe combine it with a solar eclipse barbecue or another eclipse event? Have fun with it!