Why does a lunar eclipse last longer than a solar?
Thank you for asking this question. It is very good and appropriate.
The reason lunar eclipses last longer is that when a lunar eclipse
takes place, anybody who can see the Moon in the sky can see the
eclipse. The Earth's shadow soars into the sky, and when the Moon
passes through it, an eclipse is visible for anyone who can see the
Moon at the time of the eclipse.
On the other hand, the Moon's shadow, which works for eclipses of the
Sun, is tiny by comparison. An eclipse is visible (a solar
eclipse, that is) over a much smaller area. The total phase may be
visible in a long arc that may be as narrow as a few miles wide, to
perhaps 100 miles.
The next total solar eclipse visible from our Adirondack Astronomy
Retreat, will occur on April 8, 2024. The next total from Tucson is
some 500 years away.
With best wishes
David H. Levy
Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives
Update: June 2012