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Sun, Moon and Earth

29 29 28 eclIPSeS cosmic attention seeking By what almighty coincidence do the discs of Sun and Moon appear the same size to we earthlings The Sun is 400 times larger than the Moon, yet 400 times further away. The distance of the Moon from the Earth is just over thirty Earth diameters. Total solar eclipses could never occur if the Moons orbital distance was changed by just one Earth diameter. Total solar eclipses instill an elemental awe in us, with a sudden brief reversal from light into darkness, after which dawn returns from the west, at over 2000 miles per hour Lunar eclipses are gentler, longer and simulate a whole lunation cycle in just a few hours. Solar eclipses occur when the new moon passes directly between Sun and Earth. They can only be seen during daytime, the area of totality tracing a narrow smudge of blackness across the Earth. Totality never lasts longer than seven minutes at any one location opposite top. During lunar eclipses the full moon passes from right to left through the Earths shadow, its reflected light extinguished for several hours opposite below. Lunar eclipses are visible to all on the night side of the Earth. As the angle between Sun and node increases, total eclipses decrease and become partial page 25. Beyond 18.5o no eclipse can occur. There can be up to seven eclipses in any one year, and solar eclipses are the more common, by the ratio 21. If you stand under a tree during a solar eclipse the dappled light at your feet transforms into a myriad of crescent suns border opposite.
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