Civilizations have observed celestial events for thousands of years. Whether performing astronomical research or simply enjoying the wonders of nature as they appear in outer space, people have always been captivated by the mysterious beauty of events that transpire above the earth’s atmosphere. For many, an eclipse is the most captivating event of all.
Eclipses have occurred since the dawn of time, and today we have the technology to answer an important question: How many different types of eclipses are there? The answer is seven.
1. Total Solar Eclipse
This type of eclipse occurs when the central, darkest part of the moon’s shadow, known as the “umbra”, fully occludes the view of the sun, with the sun’s radiance vaguely outlining the circular shadow. The longest solar eclipse on record lasted an amazing seven minutes and 25 seconds. According to astronomers, if the record is broken, it will not happen until after 8,000 AD!
If you’re planning to watch the next total solar eclipse, make sure you have “CE” certified solar eclipse viewers on hand!
2. Partial Solar Eclipse
This eclipse takes place when moon’s “penumbra” — a lighter portion of its shadow that is outside of the umbra — partially occludes the view of the sun. The sun may be shaped like a crescent or appear as if a small piece is missing. Unlike total eclipses, partial eclipses can make the sun look different each time, and they happen more often than total solar eclipses.
3. Annular Solar Eclipse
This type of eclipse happens when the moon’s “antumbra” — a part of its shadow that is lighter than the umbra but darker than the penumbra — fully occludes the view of the sun. However, unlike with a total eclipse, the moon appears to have a distinct, circular periphery of radiant light. This creates the illusory effect of the moon appearing nearly as big as the sun.
4. Hybrid Solar Eclipse
In a hybrid solar eclipse, the curvature of the earth causes certain areas along the eclipse path to intersect the moon’s umbra and experience a total eclipse, while areas on the path that intersect the antumbra experience an annular eclipse. Hybrid solar eclipses require a highly precise alignment between earth and moon. They occur about once every decade.
5. Total Lunar Eclipse
A total lunar eclipse results from the earth’s umbra fully covering the surface of the moon. Because the moon is illuminated only by light that refracts from the earth’s atmosphere, it appears darker than normal, often having a reddish or copper-like color. This type of moon is frequently called a “blood moon” (pictured above) and provides a distinctive view of the moon’s topography.
6. Partial Lunar Eclipse
A partial lunar eclipse transpires when sun, earth, and moon share a slightly imperfect alignment that causes a portion of the moon to be covered by the earth’s umbra, while the rest of the moon is covered by the earth’s penumbra. When a lunar eclipse happens, there is a 30% chance that it will be a partial eclipse, compared to a 35% chance for a total eclipse.
7. Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
This type of eclipse occurs when the earth’s penumbra covers the moon, making the moon appear darker. However, because the moon’s penumbra is significantly lighter than its umbra, some penumbral lunar eclipses are easy to overlook with the naked eye. Astronomers estimate that penumbral lunar eclipses happen between two and four times each year.
Regardless of how many different types of eclipses there are, you’ll want to make sure you experience them safely. At Rainbow Symphony, all of our solar eclipse glasses are "CE" Certified and meet the transmission requirements of scale 12-16 of EN 169/1992 for absolutely safe direct solar viewing.
Browse our entire selection of eclipse shades, filters, and other products and place your order today so you’re ready for the next eclipse near you!