A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth, sun and moon align in space, with Earth between the sun and moon. At such times, Earth’s shadow falls on the full moon, darkening the moon’s face and – at mid-eclipse – usually turning it a coppery red. A solar eclipse happens at the opposite phase of the moon – new moon – when the moon passes between the sun and Earth.
Why aren’t there eclipses at every full and new moon?The moon takes about a month to orbit around the Earth. If the moon orbited in the same plane as the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane – we would have a minimum of two eclipses every month. There’d be an eclipse of the moon at every full moon. And, one fortnight (approximately two weeks) later there’d be an eclipse of the sun at new moon for a total of at least 24 eclipses every year.