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Light into dark: Eclipses of the Sun and Moon

RAS public lecture, 13 January 2015

by Ian Ridpath

Eclipses of the Sun and Moon are among the most awe-inspiring natural phenomena. Most spectacular of all are total solar eclipses, when the Sun’s brilliant disk is completely obscured for a few minutes, turning daytime into darkness and bringing into view its faint outer halo of gas, the corona. At lunar eclipses, the Moon turns blood red at night for an hour or more as it passes through the Earth’s shadow. In 2015, the biggest solar eclipse since 1999 will be visible from the UK on March 20, followed by a total lunar eclipse on September 28. Find out what causes these rare events, and what you can expect to see.