know the difference between Lunar eclipse and Solar eclipse

Sun and moon are heavenly bodies and the principal sources of natural light for the earth. While sun is a huge burning star that sheds its powerful light to illumine the blue planet, moon is a satellite rotating around the earth reflecting the sun’s light on to the earth’s surface in a milder form during nights.

An eclipse (solar or lunar) involves three celestial bodies namely, the sun, moon and the earth. Solar and lunar eclipses are natural events when the sun and moon’s lights are partially or fully hidden from the view for a brief period of time.

A solar eclipse results when the moon passes in between the earth and the sun hiding the sun fully or partly for some time. A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes in between the moon and the sun casting its shadow on the moon and thus hiding it fully or partly for some time.


The science behind eclipses is quite intriguing and astonishing. Here we compare the solar and lunar eclipses and learn how they differ from each other.

Solar eclipse and lunar eclipse differences (Surya Grahan vs Chandra Grahna)

Solar eclipse (Surya Grahan)Lunar eclipse (Chandra Grahan)
A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes in between the earth and the sun.A lunar eclipse happens when the earth passes in between the moon and the sun.
During a solar eclipse, the moon partially or fully hides the sun’s rays for a few minutes. During a lunar eclipse, the earth’s shade partially or fully hides the moon for a brief period of time.
Happens once in 18 months.Occurs two times in a year.
The three types of solar eclipses are total solar eclipse, partial solar eclipse, and annular solar eclipse. The three types of lunar eclipses are total lunar eclipse, partial lunar eclipse and a penumbral lunar eclipse.
Solar eclipse is seen from few places only.Lunar eclipses are spotted from many places.
Happens during a dayOccurs during nights
A solar eclipse happens on a new moon day. A lunar eclipse happens on a full moon day.
It is not safe to see a solar eclipse through naked eyes. You need protective glasses to avoid any harm to the eyes.It is perfectly safe to see a lunar eclipse with naked eyes. You do not need any protective covering to view it.

Solar and lunar eclipses: some interesting points

A lunar eclipse can happen only when the moon is directly opposite to the sun in the sky with the earth in between. This position happens on every full moon day month on month. However, we do not see a lunar eclipse on every full moon day since the sun is not precisely in line with the earth and the moon and the moon’s orbit around the earth is tilted by about 5 degrees. Hence a lunar eclipse happens only two times in a year.

Since the moon is 300 times closer to the earth than the sun. Therefore, the chances of earth blocking the sunlight falling on the moon is greater when compared to the moon blocking the sunlight. This is why solar eclipse are fewer in number than lunar eclipses. The duration of lunar eclipses are longer than that of solar eclipses. Lunar eclipses can be seen from many places while solar eclipses can be seen only from limited number of places on the earth.

See Also -
Lunar Eclipse time, date and schedule in India on July 5