SOLAR ECLIPSE (Syllabus GS Paper 1 – Geography)

News-CRUX-10     8th April 2024        
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Context: A total solar eclipse recently crossed North America, traversing Mexico, the United States, and Canada, marking a rare occurrence for any specific location.

Solar Eclipse

  • About: A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon comes between the Earth and the Sun, blocking the Sun's light either fully or partially.
  • Types of Solar Eclipses:
  • Total Solar Eclipse: When the Moon completely blocks the Sun, casting a shadow on Earth, resulting in darkness in the area of totaality.

oRare Total Solar Eclipse: While solar eclipses can happen between two and five times per year, total eclipses are rare, occurring only approximately once every 18 months.

oUmbra Visibility: Total eclipses are visible only from within the umbra, the darkest part of the shadow. The penumbra, a lighter part of the shadow, does not provide the same viewing experience.

  • Annular Solar Eclipse: When the Moon covers the Sun's center but leaves its outer edges visible, creating a "ring of fire" effect.
  • Partial Solar Eclipse: When only a part of the Sun is obscured by the Moon from the perspective of an observer on Earth.
  • Hybrid Solar Eclipse: A rare type of eclipse that appears as a total eclipse in some places and annular in others, depending on the viewer's location.

Frequency of Solar Eclipses

  • Occurrence during New Moon: Solar eclipses happen when the Moon and Sun align during the new moon phase, occurring approximately every 29.5 days due to the lunar orbit around Earth.
  • Nodes and Line of Nodes: The points where the Moon's orbit intersects Earth's orbital plane, known as nodes, determine the possibility of solar eclipses. 
  • The line connecting these nodes, called the line of nodes, creates the opportunities for eclipses when the new moon passes through them.
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