A solar Eclipse is where the Moon comes between the Earth and Sun causing an area of the planet to fall into complete darkness. The area of totality, I'll refer to it as the centre. The further from the Centre you get, the less dark it gets. Once the Sun is eclipsed,it will become slightly cold. Either side of the line of totality, you will see a partial solar eclipse but it won't go dark, it'll stay light but when you look at the Sun With SPECIAL GLASSES, you will see a "bite" taken out of the Sun.
The reason why we get a Solar Eclipse in different parts of the world is because the Moon doesn't orbit the Sun but its orbit is at a tilt.
Earth is the only planet in the solar system that is able to experience an Eclipse because of the perfect size and position of the Moon and the Sun. The Sun is 400 times as big as the Moon but also 400 times further away. The Sun and the Moon appear in the sky the same size therefore the Moon as able to fully cover the Sun. It won't always be this case, in the far far future as the Moons orbit grows bigger, the Moon will not be able to cover the Sun and we won't be able to have an Eclipse. N.A.S.A. has calculated that the Moon is moving away from the Earth at about 3.78 centimeters a year 1. Although Eclipses will no longer therefore be possible in our Solar System, they exist on other Solar Systems in the galaxy and universe.
Although Earth might be the only place in the solar system to have an Eclipse, it is by no means unique. Scientists have discovered that the longest stellar eclipse so far is one that involves the binary system TYC 2505-672-1 in the constellation of Leo Minor. ref:Guiness
The whole world will not go dark because the Moon is smaller than the Earth. If you had a light source and two balls, a large beach ball and a tennis ball. If you placed the tennis ball between the beach ball and the torch, it will only make part of the beach ball go dark which is why only some of the Earth is affected by the eclipse.
In Ancient times, Eclipses used to be feared as they didn't know what was causing them. The Chinese for example believed it was a giant dragon swallowing the Sun and therefore they would always makes a large amount of noise in the hope of scarring off the Dragon. The loud always worked and the Sun was saved from the dragon. 2
There are four types of Solar Eclipses :-
|Partial -||The Sun is partly obscured by the Moon. Whenever a Total Eclipse of the Sun occurs, parts of the world outside the Centre will see a Partial Eclipse. The further you are from the Centre, the less of the Sun occurs.|
|Total -||The Sun is completely hidden by the Moon.|
|Annular -||An Annular eclipse of the Sun is in way similar to a Total eclipse. The difference is at totality, there is a corona surrounding the Sun.|
|Hybrid -||A Hybrid eclipse is when part of the world sees a Total Eclipse and another part of the world an Annular Eclipse. This is caused by the rotation of the Earth and the movement of the Sun.|
Below is table of a couple of forthcoming and recent Eclipses.
|Annular||April 29th, 2014||Antarctica|
|Partial||October 23rd, 2014||North America, Northern Pacific|
|Total||March 20th, 2015||Northern Europe, Faroe Islands|
|Partial||September 13th, 2015||Southern Africa, Southern indian Ocean|
|Total||March 9th, 2016||Indonesia|
|Annular||September 1st, 2016||Central Africa, Indian Ocean|
|Annular||February 26th, 2017||Southern Chile, Argentina|
|Total||August 21st, 2017||United States, Partial in Europe|
To look at the sun, you will need to wear special visors which must be purchased from specialist places. If you are unsure about the protection these provide don't wear them. The best way and safest to is to view the eclipse in directly. Take two pieces of paper and make a tiny hole in one, place that in front of the other sheet, then look at the second sheet which will now have the projected eclipse on it.
Lunar eclipses is where the Earth comes between the Moon and the Earth. These events are more frequent in happening but don't gather the same amount of interest as Solar Eclipses do. With a Lunar Eclipse, you see all the phases of the Moon from Full Moon -> Crescent -> New Moon -> Crescent - Full Moon again. You see a full Lunar Cycle in the same night.
|Partial -||This is when only a portion of the Moon is hidden from the Earth.|
|Total -||When the Moon completely disappears from the night sky, it is referred to as a total lunar eclipse.|
|Penumbral -||This is when the Moon is solar eclipsed but we don't see a Lunar Eclipse.|
Below is table of a couple of previous Eclipses.
|Total||16th May 2003||Americas, Europe, Asia|
|Total||9th November 2003||Europe, Asia, Africa|
|Total||4th May 2004||S.America, Europe, Asia, Oz, Africa|
|Total||28th October 2005||Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia|
|Partial||17th October 2005||Asia, Australasia, North America|