Myths and legends about eclipses abound. Before people understood the science of eclipses, they created stories to explain why the Moon or the Sun went dark. Many of the tales involved the death or downfall of a ruler or a great natural disaster. The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids shares a few others!
Something Is Eating The Moon and Sun
Ancient Egyptians believed that a mythical pig swallowed the Moon.
According to Mayan folklore, a jaguar swallowed the Moon.
In China, people believed that a three-leg toad devoured the Moon.
During a solar eclipse, the Chinese would make a great noise and commotion – drumming, banging on pans, and shooting arrows into the sky – to restore daylight.
Today, in the Arctic, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Tlingits believe that an eclipse allows the Moon or Sun to leave the sky to see that things are all right on Earth.
A TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE OCCURS WHEN…
Earth passes directly between the Sun and the full Moon. The Moon passes through Earth’s shadow and turns a coppery-red color. A lunar eclipse can last an hour or more.
A TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE OCCURS WHEN…
The new Moon passes directly between the Sun and Earth, at just enough distance from Earth to completely block out the Sun. As the Moon obscures the sunlight, it casts a shadow (or path), sometimes up to 200 miles wide, of semidarkness on Earth.
Why Totality is Awesome
• You have to be in the shadow’s path (and have clear skies) to see a total solar eclipse-and this is not always easy. The path often passes over open sea or remote regions.
• Local temperatures drop 20 degrees Fahrenheit or more near totality.
• Many animals and birds prepare for sleep or show confusion.
• Lunar eclipses can be seen from anywhere in the darkened hemisphere in which they occur, if skies are clear.
PROTECT YOUR EYES!
Do not attempt to observe the partial phase of an eclipse with the naked eye. The easiest way to keep your eyes from turning into carbon during the partial phase of a solar eclipse is to pick up an inexpensive pair of shade number 14 welder’s goggles at any welding supply store.
For more fun facts for kids, purchase the most recent edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids!