Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses do not get similar hype and fascination. That is probably because it does not bring out as much of a change in the atmosphere as a solar eclipse does. However, in folklore, we often see the mention of the Blood Moon. The Blood Moon has often been represented as something of a terrifying occurrence of nature.
A lunar eclipse is a significant celestial phenomenon. This occurs when the full moon passes through the shadow of the earth and the entire light of the sun is blocked. The occurrence of a lunar eclipse is quite common but you would be surprised as to how many things you didn’t know about them.
So, surprise yourself and your little one with 11 surprising lunar eclipse facts for kids.
Difference between Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse
One might wonder what are the differences between a solar eclipse a lunar eclipse. To put it simply-
- Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the earth and the sun. whereas the lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the sun and the moon.
- In a solar eclipse, the shadow is cast on the Earth’s surface. Whereas in a lunar eclipse the shadow is cast on the moon’s surface.
- A total solar eclipses take place about every eighteen months or so. Whereas a total lunar eclipse occur once every year.
In case you want to learn more about the solar eclipses, check out our other article on the same!- 11 Surprising Solar Eclipse Facts for Kids
11 Interesting & Fun Facts about Lunar Eclipse for Kids They Would Love to Know About
Have your kids ever witnessed a full moon changing its natural off-white colour into a blood- red hue? Did it freak them out or did it fascinate them? Did it want them to learn more about the event? If yes, please read on!
1. A lunar eclipse is only possible during a full moon
The lunar eclipse takes place when the earth comes in between the sun and the moon and they come in a straight line. However, that is not the only requirement for a lunar eclipse. It must be a night of full moon so that the total lunar eclipse can take place.
2. They do not occur every month
Continuing from the previous point, one might think that since we get a full moon every month, we should also witness the full lunar eclipse every month. However, that is not the case.
As already mentioned before, the three celestial bodies need to form a straight line. As the moon’s orbit is tipped a little towards the earth’s orbit, the moon is generally above or below the earth’s plane.
3. Effects of the lunar eclipse can be seen from the moon too!
One of the most interesting facts about the lunar eclipse is that it is also visible from the moon!
Because the earth covers the sun, a fiery ring is visible around the earth from the moon. This is the sunlight scattering through the earth’s temperature resulting in an amazing sight, sadly, just for astronauts.
4. A lunar eclipse can be viewed from anywhere
The solar eclipse is something that cannot be viewed from everywhere on the earth. Contrary to this, a lunar eclipse can be seen from almost anywhere and everywhere in the night sky.
5. During a lunar eclipse selenelion takes place
During a lunar eclipse, it often happens that one can see both the sun and the moon at different areas of the sky just above the horizon. This usually happens right before sunset or after sunrise. This phenomenon is called “selenelion” wherein both the eclipsed moon and the sun can be observed.
6. Lunar eclipses were considered to be bad omens
Just like how ancient humans did not have an explanation for the solar eclipses and were frightened by it, they similarly couldn’t explain a lunar eclipse. As a result, lunar eclipses were thought to bring about bad times.
The ancient Inca people thought that the blood red color of the moon is due to a jaguar eating the moon. In ancient Mesopotamia, it was thought the blood red moon meant an assault on the king.
There are some superstitions regarding the lunar eclipses in other parts of the world too. For example, people are advised not to eat pre-cooked food and ladies are believed to lose their fertility in case of exposure to lunar eclipses.
7. Christopher Columbus used the lunar eclipse to scare people
Continuing from the previous point of ancient people being scared of the lunar eclipse, it is said that Christopher Columbus had used this misconception to his advantage and he told the Native Jamaican people that he can make the moon disappear. This resulted in them getting the natives gave him the supplies that he wanted.
8. The lunar eclipses won’t last forever
Just like Solar eclipses, scientists believe that the lunar eclipses too will cease to occur, a million years from now. The moon is constantly moving away from the Earth every year. This will result in Earth’s shadow no longer falling on the moon. Lunar eclipses will be a cosmic myth.
9. Hotspots appear on the moon’s surface during a lunar eclipse
One of the most interesting facts about the lunar eclipse that still remains a mystery to this day is the appearance of hotspots on the surface of the moon. These spots are warmer than the surrounding areas and scientists have been unable to answer its occurrence.
10. The lunar eclipse is related to the solar eclipse
A lunar eclipse is always related to a solar eclipse and the same is true the other way around usually eclipse will most likely precede or succeed a solar eclipse by a week or two.
Also Read: 11 Surprising Solar Eclipse Facts for Kids
11. During a lunar eclipse, there are chances of experiencing thermal shock waves
During a lunar eclipse, the Earth’s shadow falls on the surface of the moon which results in thermal shock this shock may cause rocks to crumble on the surface of the moon which releases gas, as the sunlight is totally cut off from the moon, the temperature drop is sudden.
Types of Lunar Eclipses
Just like the solar eclipse, lunar eclipses also comes in different avatars-
1. Total Lunar Eclipse
This is the eclipse where the Earth’s shadow falls on the moon completely. The moon will not disappear completely but will be a dark, eerie body in the sky. However, the moon may turn red or coppery in color during a total lunar eclipse. This is when some light from the sun passes through Earth and fall on the moon. It is a beautiful sight to see.
2. Partial Lunar Eclipse
Sometimes, the eclipse is partial. This happens when the earth, sun and moon are not aligned perfectly. So the shadow of the earth is falling partially on the moon which makes it look like a huge bite was taken from the moon.
3. Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
Now, this is a type of lunar eclipse wherein the moon is slightly shadowed by the earth. Unless someone is a practiced sky-watcher, it would be very difficult for someone to notice the penumbral lunar eclipse.
Effects of Lunar Eclipse on The Human Body
There have always been various superstitions surrounding the lunar eclipse. According to NASA however, a lunar eclipse cannot have any physical effects on a human body.
Psychologically, it can affect people but that is only because of the strong beliefs that they hold. For example, a lot of people believe a lunar eclipse reduces the fertility of a woman.
How to Look at a Lunar Eclipse Safely?
Unlike a solar eclipse, there is no harm in watching a lunar eclipse with your bare eyes. It is completely safe to watch all the types and phases of the lunar eclipse without special glasses. This is because, unlike the solar eclipse, no UVA rays coming from the sun.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Who discovered the lunar eclipse?
The first-ever mention of the lunar eclipse can be found in the Chinese book ‘Zhou-Shu’. This book belonged to the ‘Zhou’ dynasty and was discovered in 280AD. However, the lunar eclipse mentioned in the same book was recorded many centuries before that. The date has been approximately set at 29th January 1137 BC. There are also various accounts of lunar eclipses in different civilizations throughout the years. But it is difficult to put an exact date on them.
Q. What causes a lunar eclipse?
The lunar eclipse is caused when the earth comes in between the sun and the moon while revolving. This is not the only condition as the three celestial bodies have to be in a position where they are perfectly placed in a straight line.
Q. How often do lunar eclipses occur?
Usually in a year, at least two and a maximum of five lunar eclipses occur. It must be kept in mind that they are all not total lunar eclipses but can be partial ones as well.
Q. What is a penumbral lunar eclipse?
A penumbral lunar eclipse is where the moon is slightly shadowed by the earth. Without an expert eye, it is barely noticeable to ordinary people.
Q. What is a partial lunar eclipse?
A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, the earth and the moon are yet to align in a straight line but, a portion of the moon is shadowed by the earth.
Q. How long do lunar eclipses last?
Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse lasts way longer. The longest has been recorded to last for almost an hour and forty-five minutes.
Q. What is the difference between a lunar eclipse and a new moon?
The new moon is a phase of the moon that cannot be seen due to the revolution of the moon around the earth. This means that the moon is not there in the night sky. While a lunar eclipse, is when the shadow of the earth covers the moon and the moon can be seen with some concentration even if it does not turn blood red.
Q. What is a Blood Moon?
Blood Moon usually occurs during a total lunar eclipse. While the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon and it does not get light from the sun, some light manages to reach the moon through the earth’s atmosphere. Due to the refraction of light, only the reddish hue manages to reach the moon, thus giving it a Blood Moon appearance.
Well, that was it, folks! I hope you had a great time reading about some fun facts about the lunar eclipse. Did it surprise your little one? Was there any fact mentioned that managed to surprise you too?
Hopefully, your little one is no longer scared of the Blood Moon. Science, technology and knowledge have made it easier for us to understand these cosmic occurrences.