Solar eclipses - occurances and types

By Mark Sukhija

What types of solar eclipse are there?

  • Total Eclipse. A total eclipse occurs when the Moon completely obscures the Sun. The disk of the sun is replaced, instead, by an outline of the moon. The Corona, a much fainter outline of the sun, is only visible. This occurs when the Moon is relatively close to Earth.
  • Annular Eclipse. When the Sun and Moon are exactly in line but the moon is relatively further from the Earth - i.e. it's apparent size is smaller than that of the Sun. This causes the effect that the Sun appears as a very bright ring, or annulus, around the moon.
  • Hybrid Eclipse. A hybrid eclipse is a cross between a total and annular eclipse. From some parts of Earth, the eclipse is total and in others it is Annular. Hybrid eclipses are quite rare and short in duration.
  • Partial Eclipse. When the moon and sun are not exactly in line, the moon only partially obscures the Sun. Outside of the path of totality, partial eclipses are visible from a large expanse of the earth. However, some eclipses are only ever partial as the shadow, or umbra, never crosses the Earths surface. Partial eclipses are less dramatic than total eclipses.

What happens during a total solar eclipse?

During a total solar eclipse, the sky will darken and the air will cool, animals and birds react to the change in the climate and will often be seen preparing for and going to sleep - as though it were night - and awaking at the end of the eclipse.

How large is the area I can see totality from?

Totality is the period of time when the moon totally covers the sun. The path along which one can see totality is usually less that 200km wide. However, in 2009 this path was be as wide as 258 km.

Outside of this band, a partial eclipse is visible.

When is the next solar eclipse?

The next total solar eclipses are on these dates:

More solar eclipses occur for many years after this, but I simply haven't had time to add information about those eclipses yet.

For the purposes of this site I have concentrated on soley on total solar eclipses. If I ever have the time or inclination I may put up some information on other eclipse types but I will probably come to the conclusion that that's beyond the scope of this site.