Which type of eclipse, lunar or solar, have most people seen? Why?

1 Answer
Mar 15, 2016

More people will have seen a lunar eclipse than a solar eclipse.


A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned such that the Moon is in the Earth's shadow. As the Earth is bigger than the Moon, the event is visible from the nighttime hemisphere of the Earth at the time of the eclipse.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned and the Moon is close enough to the Earth that its disc completely covers the Sun's disc. The track of the Moon shadow is at most a few hundred kilometres wide. A total eclipse can only be seen when inside the track.

Larger numbers of people can only see a total solar eclipse if the path of totality passes over a large city. This doesn't tend to happen very often. Many total solar eclipses are only visible in uninhabited areas such as mid-ocean and near to the poles.

A partial eclipse can be seen in areas outside of the path of totality.

A total solar eclipse is a truly amazing sight. I am an eclipse chaser and I have seen ten. Getting to the right place at the right time takes some advance planning. Cruise ships will sometimes change their schedules to include the centre line of a total solar eclipse. This is often the best way of seeing an eclipse.