Why Is Totality During a Solar Eclipse Not Accomplished?

totality-during-solar-eclipse-accomplished Credit: Philip Hart/Stocktrek Images/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

According to CNN, a solar eclipse is only a total eclipse for those areas of the Earth directly beneath the moon's shadow. Since the moon is much smaller than the sun or the Earth, it may only completely block the sun's light over part of the Earth's surface. Anyone outside this full shadow may see a partial eclipse, but it will not achieve totality.

When the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, it creates an area of deep shadow where the sun's light is completely obscured. This is the umbra, the area where the eclipse reaches totality. The penumbral shadow surrounds the umbra and is much larger. In this region, the sun's light is only partially obscured, producing a partial solar eclipse. The specific orientation and movement of the moon determines where the umbra and penumbra will fall, and each solar eclipse may only be visible in certain parts of the world.

In some cases, the moon may be too far away from the Earth to create a total eclipse. The moon may block out most of the sun's light but leave a bright ring around its perimeter. These eclipses are called annular eclipses. In other cases, the moon and the sun may not line up precisely, producing only a partial eclipse.