A lunar eclipse happens when the moon moves behind the Earth and falls into its shadow. This can only ever occur if the moon, Earth, and sun are all completely aligned (in that order); and can only ever happen when the moon is completely round (a full moon).
|Picture of the stages of a total lunar eclipse. (image taken from Flickr)|
Like many natural events, the lunar eclipses are embroiled with mythology. In Egyptian dynasties, people thought the moon disappeared due to a large sow swallowing it and the Mayans thought that a Jaguar ate the moon.
One could say that lunar eclipses are fairly common and occur at least biannually. However total lunar eclipses like that witnessed in The Americas this morning are relatively rare.
Explorer Fact: A further 3 more eclipses will occur this year
- a solar eclipse-29th April
- a total lunar eclipse-8th October
- a partial solar eclipse- 23rd October