Details: Total solar eclipses occur somewhere on Earth on average every 18 months. But on a given place on Earth, they only occur once every 360 to 410 years. And even then, with a speed of the Moon’s shadow of over 1700 km/h, they only last up to 7 minutes and 30 seconds.
Solar eclipses occur when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth. Only at new moon, the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from the Earth, an alignment referred to as syzygy. The Moon’s orbit is tilted at over 5 degrees to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Due to this, the Moon’s umbra usually misses the Earth.
Hundreds of million years ago, the Moon was closer to the Earth. Because of its larger apparent size, no annular solar eclipses were possible. However the orbit of the Moon around the Earth becomes approximately 3.8 cm more distant every year. Annular solar eclipses become more frequent, and millions of years in the future, there will be no more total eclipses.
Even though eclipses are a natural phenomenon, its infrequence often led people to attribute them to supernatural causes. However even for people, who are perfectly aware of its astronomical explanation, solar eclipses are something special. Eclipse chasers travel hours to remote locations to observe solar eclipses.
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