How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 484

During a total solar eclipse, does the moon make first contact with the sun on the eastern limb or the western limb? Can you explain this to me?
The moon orbits the earth from west to east. By that, I mean that if the earth were to stop turning, the moon would then rise in the west and set in the east. During a total solar eclipse, the moon is drifting directly in front of the sun. Since the moon moves from west to east, it will first block the western edge of the sun, the western limb. In contrast, during a total lunar eclipse, the moon is drifting into the earth's shadow. Since it is moving from west to east, its eastern edge will enter the shadow first.
         

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