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If your kids are interested in the skies and astronomy, these lunar eclipse facts for kids are for you! We’re going to answer questions like: What is a lunar eclipse? Lunar eclipse meaning, the types of lunar eclipses, how often they occur, and what causes them to happen.
This post will answer these questions and more in a way that children will understand. We will also include some fantastic lunar eclipse books for kids that will explain even more for your young moon enthusiast.
How Often Do Lunar Eclipses Occur?
Lunar eclipses occur relatively frequently. On average, there are two lunar eclipse events per year or 365 days.
Understanding how a lunar eclipse happens, it’s first important that kids understand what a lunar eclipse is. In simple terms, a lunar eclipse is when a planet blocks the light from the Sun.
This happens when the Earth moves in front of the sun and blocks all or some sunlight. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun.
What Causes A Lunar Eclipse?
A lunar eclipse is caused by the moon passing through Earth’s shadow. The word “eclipse” means to disappear or to be blocked out entirely and this event occurs because there are only two sources of light in space.
One source is the sun, which illuminates objects on earth when it’s up, and the other from the moon which illuminates objects on earth when it’s up. Because these two light sources are so far apart in space they can’t be seen at once.
Total lunar eclipses occur when the Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon during its full phase. It is called “total” because it happens when both Earth and Sun are aligned so that our planet casts its outer shadow (or umbra) onto the moon which completely blocks any direct sunlight from reaching it.
What Happens When A Lunar Eclipse Occurs?
A total or partial lunar eclipse can only happen at night, so it is not visible from all sides of the world simultaneously unlike a solar event. When a lunar eclipse occurs you will notice a dark shadow that crosses the face of the moon.
How Long Does A Lunar Eclipse Last?
A total lunar eclipse can be viewed for an hour or more. A partial lunar eclipse might only be visible for a few minutes while penumbral eclipses are barely noticeable at all.
Types Of Lunar Eclipses:
There is more than one type of moon-blocking event; these include total, partial and penumbral phases.
Total Lunar Eclipse
This is when the Earth moves directly between the Sun and Moon, blocking any direct sunlight from reaching it. The moon will be completely dark during this time as it cannot reflect light toward us on its own in space.
Partial Lunar Eclipse
We are only able to see a partial blockage of the Sun’s light by the Earth when looking at a partial lunar eclipse. The moon will also not be totally dark as some sunlight is being blocked, causing it to have an eerie red or orange hue.
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through part of Earth’s umbra (a part of the Shadow cast by our planet’s umbral shadow) but not all. The Earth casts its own dark, central and inky-black shadows onto the moon during this type of lunar eclipse
Quick Facts About The Lunar Eclipse:
- Some lunar eclipses can last up to 3 hours and 45 minutes.
- Usually eclipses alternate between a solar and lunar eclipse.
- There are usually more solar eclipses a year than lunar eclipses.
- It’s safe to look at the moon during a lunar eclipse since it’s not making its own light.
- Solar eclipses are not as common as lunar eclipses.
- A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth’s shadow covers the moon, so more people can see it.
Whether you are a kid or an adult, I hope reading this article helped you understand how the Earth’s moon can get covered by the shadow of the Earth and other interesting lunar eclipse facts. If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more about astronomy, check out our post on solar eclipses.
Lunar Eclipse Craft
Now that you know how and why a lunar eclipse happens, you might enjoy making this moveable lunar eclipse craft.