Trivia

Hard

The Only Moon Phase That Can Produce A Solar Eclipse Is?

Waxing Gibbous
Full Moon
New Moon
Waning Crescent
Photo of a total solar eclipse on March 20, 2015.
Damien Deltenre (Penn State)/Flickr

Answer: New Moon

Every month our Moon goes through a variety of phases from the full moon that poets, playwrights, and songwriters have written of so fondly over the years to the inky black new moon that hides its face from the world down below.

While the new moon might not be much to look at during most months, if you look at the right time, you can see something spectacular that can only exist during a new moon: a solar eclipse. Unlike a lunar eclipse where a full moon passes into the shadow of the Earth, temporarily appearing to be darker and reddish colored, a solar eclipse only occurs when an actual new moon passes between the Earth and the Sun.

Despite the belief that solar eclipses are more rare than lunar eclipses, it’s not true: somewhere on Earth approximately two of each are seen each year. One reason, however, that solar eclipses feel so rare is because they are visible from a much smaller part of the Earth than a lunar eclipse. Because of the geometry of the Moon’s inclined orbit (more than 5 degrees) compared to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and the distance between us and the Moon during the course of its elliptical orbit, a solar eclipse is only visible to people on Earth in a band approximately 300 miles (480 kilometers) wide. Further, only a fraction of the people in that band will be able to see a total solar eclipse. So the next time you hear about a total solar eclipse in your area, get some proper eye protection and enjoy a rare astronomical show.

Bonus Trivia: If the Moon were in a perfectly circular orbit, a little closer to the Earth, and in the same orbital plane, total solar eclipses would occur every month.

Trivia

Hard

A Character In Serialized Fiction Who Meets Or Exceeds The Popularity Of The Main Character Is Called A?

Trivia

Hard

Which U.S. State Flag Has A Union Jack On It?

Trivia

Hard

The Largest Library Of Inks In The World Belongs To?

Trivia

Hard

In The 1980s, It Was Possible To Download Software From Which Of These Unlikely Sources?

Trivia

Hard

During World War II, The U.S. Military Turned Which Of These Animals Into Self-Guided Explosive Devices?

Trivia

Hard

Actor James Doohan Was Awarded An Honorary Degree In?

Trivia

Hard

The First State to Adopt an Official State Dinosaur Was?

Trivia

Hard

The United States Postal Service Printed Billions Of Stamps With The Wrong Image Of?

Trivia

Very Hard

What Popular 1980s Computer Game Blatantly Ripped Off Super Mario Bros?

Trivia

Hard

The Racquet Sport With The Fastest Projectile Is?