What Is the Difference Between a Full Moon & an Eclipse?

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A full moon and an eclipse are different because they involve different phases of the same object. Find out about the difference between a full moon and an eclipse with help from an educational professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Outer Space
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Eylene Pirez, and I'm an astrophysicist, and this is, "What is the difference between a full moon and an eclipse?" So here we have the moon faces and here is the sun so we can see if the Earth is here and the moon is right here, we see nothing so this is the new moon then we move into first quarter and then here we have the full moon. So full moon occurs when you have the Earth between the moon and the sun. Now how, if we are all in the same line we should have a lunar eclipse all the time right, and a lunar eclipse is when the Earth moves between the sunlight and you block out the sunlight and it casts a shadow on the moon. So it would be something like from here from the Earth, we will block out the light and here the moon will look like fairly dark but what it actually is is the shadow of the Earth. And that's what a lunar eclipse is. Now the problem here is that this doesn't happen every month. So why doesn't it happen every month is because the moon is not in the same orbital plane as all of us. So it's five degrees higher. So because of this inclination we don't block out the light all the time so we don't cast our shadow on the moon every single month every time we have a full moon. And that's the difference between a full moon and an eclipse. A full moon is when we don't block out the sunlight and a lunar eclipse is when we block out the sunlight because we are directly in the middle. My name is Eylene Pirez and I'm an astrophysicist and this is the differences between a lunar eclipse and a full moon.

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