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  how does a solar eclipse occur?
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  do we have to wait for an eclipse?
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  what can we learn from eclipses?

lunar eclipse


As well as solar eclipses we can also see lunar eclipses. As with a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse involves the Sun, the Earth and the Moon, but in a different order. Just like the Moon and all the other planets, the Earth casts a shadow in space. When the Moon passes into this shadow, we see a lunar eclipse.

lunar eclipse

Here is an animation showing the orbit of the Moon around the Earth and the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. Can you see when a lunar eclispe happens?




One big difference between a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse is that you don't need to be in any special place on Earth to see it. If you can see the Moon anywhere in the sky, you'll see the eclipse.


Are eclipses seen on other planets?


Yes, all you need is a moon large enough to block out the Sun. If you could visit Jupiter, you'd see some of the best and clearest eclipses in the solar system caused by its moons.


Take a look at this picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft of Jupiter's moon Europa and the shadow it's casting on Jupiter's clouds. (Cassini mission, JPL)


Here’s another image of Europa and its shadow.




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