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How Does a Solar Eclipse Work?

Solar eclipses occur when the moon gets between Earth and the sun. This causes the moon to cast a shadow onto Earth. A solar eclipse can only take place at the phase of new moon, but different factors can create four types of solar eclipses. The first is a total solar eclipse, where the moon passes exactly between the sun and Earth. The sun is completely covered, casting a shadow of the moon along a narrow path that moves over a certain part of the Earth’s surface. But not every solar eclipse is a total one. Sometimes the moon only covers part of the sun, creating a partial solar eclipse. During a partial solar eclipse, the moon appears to take a nibble or bite out of the sun as it crosses only part of the solar disk. Part of the sun remains in view during the eclipse, so NEVER look at a partial eclipse without eye protection! Annular solar eclipses, or so-called "ring of fire" eclipses, happen when the moon is farthest from Earth. It looks as if a dark disk is on top of a larger sun disk, creating a ring around the moon. Lastly, a hybrid solar eclipse, or annular-total eclipse. These are truly strange eclipses that transform from on type to another. They can appear as a total eclipse from some points on Earth, but as a annular eclipse from others. No matter what type of solar eclipse you have the chance to see, take a moment to marvel at the celestial dance between the sun, moon and Earth that makes the spectacular sight possible.
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