(WSPA) - August 21st is fast approaching, and millions of people will venture outside or travel to see the total solar eclipse. What exactly is a solar eclipse, though, and how does it differ from the lunar eclipses we talk about every now and then?
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon's shadow is cast on earth, or, said another way, the moon blocks the sun's light. A total solar eclipse happens when the entire disc of the sun is covered by the moon, revealing the sun's outer and inner atmosphere (corona) that normally cannot be observed or studied without sophisticated instruments at a few solar research agencies.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth's shadow is cast onto the moon. The earth effectively blocks the sun's light as it tries to get to the moon. A total lunar eclipse can make the moon appear red or orange because the only light reaching it is coming from the edges of the earth (sunrises and sunsets).
The next total solar eclipse is July 2, 2019, but you won't be able to see it unless you're in the South Pacific or in Chile or Argentina in South America. The next total lunar eclipse is January 31, 2019. You'll have to be in east Asia or Australia to see that one!