An eclipse is an astronomical event when one celestial body partially or totally covers another celestial object. We can see two kinds of eclipses from Earth: eclipses of the Sun and eclipses of the Moon.

Solar eclipses


When the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. The Moon blocks the light of the Sun and a shadow of the Moon is cast on the Earth’s surface.

There are three types of a solar eclipse: total, partial, and annular.

A partial eclipse will also occur if the Sun, Moon, and Earth are not precisely lined up. The eclipse cannot be total unless the center of the Moon’s shadow is able to strike the Earth.

An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon is at its farthest distance from the Earth and the Moon appears too small to completely block out the disk of the Sun.

During a total eclipse, the Moon completely covers our view of the Sun. A total eclipse is only visible from a narrow strip (about 150 km wide) of the Earth’s surface. From the areas outside this narrow strip, the Sun appears to be only partially covered and a partial eclipse is seen.

A solar eclipse will occur on Friday March 20, 2015, just a few hours before springs begin in the northern hemisphere.

It will be total if you are at the Faroe or Svalbard Islands, but it will look partial from Spain. So get ready because from 8:41 to 12:50 the Moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun covering the most of the sun light at 10:45

mapa eclipse

In Madrid 66.5% of the sun is covered.

The eclipse will be deeper percentage-wise the farther

north you are so in Coruña 76% of the sun is covered.

A total eclipse is a very special experience. Many people who experience a total eclipse often describe it as one of the most moving or significant positive events of their lives, when for a few minutes it suddenly looks like closed night and you are able to see the stars in the middle of the day. People are often surprised by the intensity of the experience and there are several groups that travel around the world hunting total solar eclipses (and are called umbraphiles) let’s say hello to the people on the UCM who traveled as far as China and Australia with this purpose:

Jaime Izquierdo from the UCM team will be in the area of earth covered by a total solar eclipse. We wish him a great weather but march in the North Atlantic typically hosts stormy skies, and the low elevation of the eclipse in the sky may hamper observations as well. From the Faroe Islands, the Sun sits 18 degrees above the horizon during totality, while from the Svalbard Islands it’s even lower at 12 degrees in elevation. Much of Svalbard is also mountainous, making for sunless pockets of terrain that will be masked in shadow on eclipse day. Mean cloud amounts for both locales run in the 70% range.

Solar Eclipse Safety


If you want to view the solar eclipse the first thing you must know is Never view the sun with the naked eye or with any optical device, such as binoculars or a telescope!

If you look at the sun, your eye-lens will concentrate the sun’s light and focus it to a very small spot on the back of your retina. This can cause permanent eye damage or blindness. Additionally, there are no pain sensors back there so you won’t even know it’s happening!

Here there are some safe ways of seen the eclipse:

  • Eclipse glasses: eclipse glasses are available online in websites like amazon. Also, if you live in Madrid you can visit the planetarium to get a pair.
  • Welder’s goggles: NASA recommends welder’s glasses rated 14 or higher. These can be found at your local welding supply store.
  • Aluminized Mylar sheeting: Polyethylene terephthalate A.K.A. Mylar can be easily cut with scissors but make sure that the sheets you use are aluminized.
  • Pinhole projector: An easy and cheap way to view the Sun is to project its image to a screen, such as a sheet of white paper or cardboard. Projection works well with or without a telescope or binoculars. Again, don’t look through the telescope’s eyepiece or side-mounted finder scope while projecting the Sun’s image to a screen.

Also if you go outdoors to observe the solar eclipse, you might noticed that the shadows cast by trees will suddenly become quite strange. The tiny gaps between leaves act as pinhole lenses, projecting crescent shaped images of the eclipsed sun onto the world below.



When will happen the next one?


2015 features four eclipses in all: two total lunars and two solars, with one total solar and one partial solar eclipse. Four is the minimum number of eclipses that can occur in a calendar year.

The next total solar eclipse visible from Spain will happen in 2026.

In the meanwhile you can also check the following map to hunt one:

Total and annular solar eclipse paths: 2001-2010



Lunar eclipses


The next lunar eclipse will take place on April the 4rd. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow.

Now you might be wondering “If the Moon orbits the Earth every 29.5 days and lunar eclipses only occur at Full Moon, then why don’t we have an eclipse once a month during Full Moon?”. The Moon’s orbit around Earth is actually tipped about 5 degrees to Earth’s orbit around the Sun. This means that the Moon spends most of the time either above or below the plane of Earth’s orbit. And the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun is important because Earth’s shadows lie exactly in the same plane. During Full Moon, our natural satellite usually passes above or below Earth’s shadows and misses them entirely. No eclipse takes place. But two to four times each year, the Moon passes through some portion of the Earth’s shadows and one eclipse occurs.

During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth blocks the Sun’s light from reaching the Moon. While the Moon remains completely within Earth’s umbral shadow, indirect sunlight still manages to reach and illuminate it. However, this sunlight must first pass deep through the Earth’s atmosphere which filters out most of the blue colored light. The remaining light is a deep red or orange in color and is much dimmer than pure white sunlight. Earth’s atmosphere also bends or refracts some of this light so that a small fraction of it can reach and illuminate the Moon.

lunar eclipse
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someone