A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Solar and Lunar Eclipse History and Science


Eclipses, both lunar and solar, have been going on as long as the Earth has been around and we didn’t always know as much about them as we do now. Ancient civilizations had many stories to explain the eclipses and warn of what they thought were potential dangers. The stories used to explain the absence of the sun and moon range from monsters eating or stealing them to the sun and moon being lovers fleetingly meeting.
The Vikings believed that two wolves chased the sun and moon and that eclipses happened when one of the wolves caught up with their prey and were able to take a bite. Vietnamese people thought that a giant frog or toad eating one of the heavenly bodies was the cause while Koreans thought magical dogs had orders from the king to steal them and eclipses happened when one got close enough to take a bite. A common response in a lot of the cultures who had stories like this was to make as much noise as possible to scare the offending creature away.
Other cultures believed headless deities tried to eat the sun and moon or that an eclipse was a brief rendezvous of the lovers. Some believed bad things happened to a pregnant woman and her baby if she went out during an eclipse.
Despite what the myths say the only danger during an eclipse is to look directly at it without protective eye wear, so there’s no need to worry about giant wolves or headless gods ruining future eclipses for you.


Lunar eclipses makes the moon red, and solar eclipses blacken the sun. A solar eclipse only occurs during a new moon. The moon has 8 different phases: new moon, waxing crescent, waxing gibbous, 1st quarter, full moon, waning crescent, waning gibbous, and 3rd quarter. The full moon and new moon are the only phases that have eclipses. Total solar eclipses last only 1-2 minutes, while total lunar eclipses last 6-7.5 minutes. Solar eclipses are the more rare eclipses while lunar eclipses are more common. Someone is more likely to see a lunar eclipse than a solar eclipse in their lifetime. While a lunar eclipse is more common, it is harder to see because of its locations and time. Solar eclipses can be planned and can occur where you live. Eclipses are a spectacle to see. The eclipses themselves are considered an omen by ancient people. The Greeks thought of it as the end of the WORLD!!!