Eclipse Total Eclipse Path of Totality Space Weather Temperature

A solar eclipse is one of the most amazing astronomical spectacles seen from Earth.  In history, the total eclipse of the sun was considered a warning from the God’s, and was greeted with fear.  Presently, eclipses are understood and welcomed. 

A solar eclipse happens when a moon passes directly in front of the sun.  On Earth, an eclipse is so glorious because of the perfect ratios between our Moon and our sun.  The moon is exactly 400 times smaller than the sun, but at the same time the moon is also 400 times closer to the Earth than the sun.  So, with the perfect ratio we are able to have a perfect eclipse.

When the moon passes in front of the sun, causing the eclipse, it creates two types of shadow, the penumbra and the umbra.  The penumbral shadow is the outer shadow.  People within this shadow can only see a partial eclipse of the sun.  The umbra shadow is the inner, darker shadow.  Anybody within this shadow can see a total eclipse of the sun.  The path that the umbra shadow travels is called the Path of Totality.  Only certain places on the Earth can see a fully phased eclipse, and every time there is a new eclipse, the path changes. 

There are only minor Earthly weather changes during an eclipse.  Along the Path of Totality the sky grows dark for an average of five to ten minutes.  Some people describe it as being dark as night, but from my experiences when I was a kid, it was dark but more eerie than night like.  Another effect is the drop in temperature.  It has been reported that the air temperature within the umbra can drop almost thirty degrees Fahrenheit.  Wildlife in these areas start preparing for night, as if the sun really did set. 

Other than darkness and minor temperature fluctuations nothing really noteworthy happens, weather wise, on Earth anyways.  However, scientists that specialize in solar science take the time during a total eclipse to study space weather coming from the sun.  A total eclipse is the only time possible to study the corona.  The corona is the outer layer of the sun’s gas that produces all of the sun’s spectacular weather.  Scientists can study things such as solar flares and such when the corona is visible.  Being able to study this could help us in the future with predictions about space weather that could affect Earth in possibly harmful ways.