For an explanation, see the main splats page
The principles of eclipses and other events
- Eclipses and occultations happen when three bodies all lie on a straight line, so that the light from one of them is prevented from reaching another.
- Eclipses of the Sun happen when the Earth, Moon and Sun line up so the Moon is between the Sun and the viewer. Total eclipses only affect a narrow belt.
- Eclipses of the Moon may be seen from half of the Earth. They happen when the Earth moves between the Sun and the Moon so as to entirely shade it.
- The fact that we can observe a solar eclipse proves that the Moon is closer to the Earth than the Sun, and this was known by the ancient Greeks.
- In a lunar eclipse, the surface of the Moon appears red because some of the Sun's light is refracted by the Earth's atmosphere, which filters out blue light.
- When scientists in the Mediterranean saw eclipses of the Moon, these showed them that Earth was a sphere, based on its shadow.
- Further evidence of a spherical Earth in lunar eclipses came when scientists compared the time of night when eclipses were seen in different longitudes.
- Solar eclipses also showed Greek astronomers that the Sun was further from the Earth than the Moon was.
- When the moons of Jupiter are eclipsed by Jupiter, this happens at intervals which can be predicted. Navigators could use this to find longitude.
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