May 16 marked the first lunar eclipse of 2022. The rare event gave people a chance to see a red Moon, also known as blood moon. Eclipses are fascinating to watch as people get to see the Sun or the Moon in different forms and the natural phenomenon looks breathtaking. There are two major types of eclipses namely solar and lunar.
Solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, causing the Sun to be covered by the Moon’s shadow cast on Earth. Lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon causing the Moon to be covered by the shadow of Earth.
Total Lunar Eclipse
Total lunar eclipse occurs due to the Moon passing through the umbra region (area of full shadow) created by Earth on the Moon. The Moon goes red rather than dark in colour as the Sunlight that penetrates Earth’s atmosphere is refracted into the umbra and hits the Moon making the star appear red. The latest lunar eclipse we are seeing also comes in the category of Total Lunar Eclipse.
Partial Lunar Eclipse
Partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon are not aligned in a straight line. Some part of the moon is covered by the dark shadow cast on it by the central part of Earth’s shadow which is called the umbra and the rest of the Moon is covered by the penumbra, the outer part of Earth’s shadow. Lunar Eclipse is never annular as the Earth is too big to leave a ring of Moon to be visible.
Lunar eclipses occur at a gap of around a year and the stages of the eclipse are:
1. Penumbral eclipse begins – Earth’s penumbra starts covering the Moon.
2. Partial eclipse begins – The Umbra region of Earth starts covering the Moon.
3. Maximum eclipse – Moon is mostly covered by Umbra. (Fully covered by umbra when it’s total eclipse)
4. Partial eclipse Ends – Umbra region passes, and moon enters penumbra region again.
5. Penumbral eclipse ends – Penumbra region also passes, there’s no longer Earth’s shadow on the moon.