It's a Total Eclipse of the...

Eclipses have been awing people for centuries! So what is it exactly? An eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and earth align (called syzygy - which is a really fun word to say!) How is that possible?! Well, the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, and it's also 400 times away, so from where we are on our blue and green marble, it appears that the sun and the moon are of equal size. So when the sun is lined up with the moon and earth, the moon has the ability to fully shadow the sun. Viola! We have an eclipse. 

There are two different kinds of eclipses: lunar and solar. Lunar eclipses occur when the moon travels through the earth's shadow. (So the syzygy order is sun, earth, moon.) Solar eclipses occur when the moon travels between the earth and the sun. (Syzygy order is earth, moon, sun.)

So, of course, eclipses have been occurring for...a really long time. The first documentation of a successfully predicted solar eclipse goes to the Babylonians on May 3, 1375 BCE. Even before then, eclipses have been met with a variety of reactions. Wars have ended, wars have started, humanity has been contemplated, entire communities have yelled at the moon and sun until the eclipse ends, and that's not mentioning how animals go nuts and the weather changes! It can bring to mind how often we take the sun, the moon and gravitational orbit for granted! 

Photo as shown on

Photo as shown on



National Geographic collected photos from 100 years of eclipse-spectating from all over the world. Take a look and use them as conversational starters; you may even recognize some people! 


Love these two simple-to-create yet education-inspiring snacks from Baking with Julie: Eclipse sandwiches and an eclipse mix! (Click on the pictures to enlarge)

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