Traditionally, eclipses are divided into two major types: Solar and lunar. 

Solar eclipses occur when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, leaving a moving region of shadow on Earth’s surface.

Lunar eclipses occur when Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, casting a shadow on the Moon. 

Solar eclipses may be classified as either total, in which the Moon completely covers the Sun, or annular.


An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon covers the Sun's center, leaving the Sun's visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” or annulus around the Moon.

The Moon's shadow is not big enough to engulf the entire planet, so the shadow is always limited to a certain area (see map illustrations below). This area changes during the eclipse because the Moon and Earth are in constant motion: Earth continuously rotates around its axis while it orbits the Sun, and the Moon orbits Earth.

Solar eclipses are only visible from within the area where the shadow falls, and the closer you are to the center of the shadow's path, the bigger the eclipse looks.

Sangeetha Pulapaka

The moon blocks the sun's centre from view, leaving the sun's outer edges. A total solar eclipse of the Sun is exciting and even profoundly moving.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's umbra touches the earth.  A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the earth's shadow (umbra). It is amazing that there are total eclipses of the sun at all, The sun is not always exactly the same angular size in the sky. The reason is that the earth's orbit is not circular but elliptical, so the earth's distance from the sun varies. When the earth is closest to the Sun (early January), the sun's disk is slightly larger in angular diameter, and it is harder for the Moon to cover the sun to create a total eclispe.

This is the corona at the totla solar eclipse of February 26, 1998, Oranjestad, Aruba.

The configuration of a total solar eclipse (left) and an annular eclipse (right). With the Moon's umbra (dark converging cone), the entire surface of the sun is blocked from view. In the Antumbra (lighter diverging cone), a fraction of the sunlight is bolcked resulting on a partial eclipse. When the moon's umbra ends in space (right), a total eclipse does not occur. Projecting the cone through the tip of the umbra onto the earth;s surface defines the region in which an annular eclipse is seen.

The beginning, middle and end of annularity during the annular solar eclispe of October 3, 2015 from Spain.