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Eclipses


Solar Eclipse

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks out the sun. Unlike lunar eclipses that occur only during full moons, a solar eclipse can only occur during a new moon. Notice in the diagram how the moon's shadow projected on the Earth is quite small. This means that solar eclipses are visible from only a small area on Earth. Solar eclipses also happen about twice a year on average. During totality, stars and planets become visible due to the darkness of the sky without the sun’s light. Total solar eclipses are also a rare opportunity to glimpse the thin solar corona; a wispy veil of ultra-hot plasma that surrounds our star.

Upcoming solar eclipses visible from Los Angeles

solar eclipses exhibit © Miloslav Druckmüller

Lunar Eclipse

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon moves into the Earth's shadow. This can only happen when the moon is full, but does not happen on every full moon. Lunar eclipses are famous for turning the moon and blood-red color at and near totality. This is due to the Earth's atmosphere acting as a lens and preferentially directing red and orange light onto the lunar surface. Lunar eclipses happen twice a year on average and are usually visible to much larger swaths of Earth than solar eclipses. In fact, favorable alignments can make Lunar Eclipses visible for up to half of the globe.

Upcoming lunar eclipses visible from Los Angeles

lunar eclipses exhibit total lunar eclipse