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Eclipse

Matthew Agius Reveals Where The First Documented Solar Eclipse Came From

Certain areas of Australia and the North Island of New Zealand were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a hybrid solar eclipse on April 20. 

While you could have caught a partial glimpse of the eclipse from anywhere in Australia, there were a couple of small towns in WA where the eclipse took place directly overhead. 

While they are beautiful to look at, what exactly are solar eclipses and as they as rare as we’ve been led to believe? 

Rumour has it, the first ever documented eclipse came from the Neolithic inhabitants of Ireland. The Loughcrew Cairns, also known as the Hills of the Witch is an ancient Irish burial ground near Dublin similar to the stone hedge. 

On these huge stone monuments, are several carvings of shapes including spirals and swirls, which archaeologists believe are documentations of an eclipse from 3040 BCE. 

Many religions have their own versions of an eclipse with Australian Aboriginal cultures considering the sun a female and the moon a male who chase each other across the sky. 

While many cultures believe an eclipse to mean different things, in scientific terms: a solar eclipse is what occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, blocking the light from reaching certain parts of the earth. 

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As for how often eclipses actually occur – more often than you might think. According to experts, eclipses actually happen once every half year during “eclipse seasons”. 

“The Earth orbits the sun every 365 and a bit days. While this is happening, the Moon rotates around the Earth,” Cosmos Magazine journalist Matthew Agius said. 

“But the Moon doesn’t orbit exactly in line with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. It actually orbits at an angle of about 5 degrees relative to this Earth Sun plane, which is called the ecliptic.

“So twice a year for between 34 and 35 days, these bodies all line up in such a way that eclipses will occur somewhere, sometime.”

Cosmos Magazine journalist Matthew Agius breaks down some of the science behind eclipses explaining why they are only visible from some parts of earth and what types of eclipses to look out for. 

Tune into the full episode of Huh? Science Explained below…  

Put your thinking caps on, folks. Huh? Science Explained is here, the twice weekly podcast brought to you by LiSTNR and Cosmos. Hosted by Cosmos’ very own science journos, this is the podcast that will answer all of life’s questions – in just 10 minutes. Hear it on the LiSTNR app now.