Lunar eclipses occur two to four times each year. Lunar eclipses only occur during full moons, but because the orbit of the moon is tipped five degrees relative to Earth's orbit around the sun, not every full moon results in an eclipse. When an eclipse does occur, it's visible to everyone on Earth's night side.Know More
There are three types of lunar eclipses. The moon's position relative to the umbra, which is the dark center of an eclipse shadow, determines which type is visible.
About 35 percent of lunar eclipses are total eclipses, and they are the best-known and most-watched type. Although direct sunlight is completely blocked by Earth, indirect light still reaches the moon's surface. The earth's shadow filters out blue-colored light, giving the moon a spectacular rust-colored hue.
A partial lunar eclipse occurs when only part of the moon passes through Earth's shadow. Partial eclipses make up about 30 percent of all lunar eclipses, and they are visible to the naked eye.
Penumbral lunar eclipses, which make up about 35 percent of lunar eclipses, occur when the moon passes through the earth's penumbra, which is the partial shadow that is visible around the umbra's periphery. This type of eclipse is difficult to see with the naked eye, and usually is of interest only to astronomers.Learn more about Our Moon
Lunar features are the physical characteristics present on the moon, such as the craters, maria and highlands. The maria are the dark, flat plains on the moon whereas the highlands are raised areas on the surface of the moon. These features are the result of the moon being hit by space rocks, asteroids and comets.Full Answer >
Scientists believe that lunar maria formed from lava flows caused when the surface of the moon was disrupted by the impacts of gigantic meteors and comets. Maria is the plural of "mare," which is Latin for sea. One of the most famous of the lunar maria is the Sea of Tranquility, which was the site of the first moon landing.Full Answer >
A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth passes between the moon and the sun. Lunar eclipses cast a shadow on the moon due to the Earth's location. From the perspective of the moon, the Earth completely blocks the sun.Full Answer >
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon travels entirely through the Earth's shadow. When the Moon goes through part of the Earth's shadow, a partial eclipse is observed.Full Answer >