Differences Between Lunar Eclipse and Total Lunar Eclipse (With Table)

Eclipse is one of the most interesting phenomenon that have attracted many people, especially scientists and scholars; it is also considered a sacred event in the Hindu religion. As the Earth travels directly between the sun and the moon, obstructing the sun’s light, Earth’s shadow falls on the moon, which results in Lunar Eclipse.

Lunar vs Total Lunar Eclipse

The main difference between Lunar Eclipse and Total Lunar Eclipse is that when the sun, the Earth, and the moon align, the moon slips into earth’s shadow, creating a lunar eclipse. On the other hand, in a Total lunar eclipse, the entire moon is engulfed by the umbra, the darkest component of earth’s shadow. This celestial event only takes place during a full moon day.

A Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Earth blocks some or all the sun rays from reaching the moon, which takes place once every twenty-nine and half days, or the length of one full orbit of the moon around the earth. The moon’s orbit is tilted a few degrees in correspondence to the Earth, as a result the Earth, moon, and sun don’t always align. Hence, Lunar Eclipses do not occur every month.

The sun’s shadow on the Earth is divided into two portions. The umbra is the darkest portion of the earth’s shadow; humans can’t see the sun from the Umbra, and the penumbra is a much lighter portion of the earth’s shadow. When the sun, moon, and Earth line up, it is either a new moon or a full moon, and this is known as Syzygy. While the moon crosses Earth’s orbital plane at Syzygy when it’s full, it enters the umbra, giving us a Total Lunar Eclipse.

Comparison Table Between Lunar and Total Lunar Eclipse

Parameters of Comparison

Lunar Eclipse

Total Lunar Eclipse


When the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth, a lunar eclipse occurs.

Total Lunar eclipse takes place when the moon is entirely engulfed by the earth’s shadow’s umbra.

Times of occurrence

Takes place when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align

Takes place when the entire moon falls within the umbra of the Earth

Last For

Can last for nearly two hours

Last for only a few minutes

Stages of Eclipse

There are 8 stages

There are 7 stages

Color of Moon

Mainly Red

Colors vary from sunset red, dark brown, dark red to yellow or bright orange

What is Lunar Eclipse?

For thousands of years, sky watchers have been enthralled by Lunar Eclipses. It happens when the earth’s shadow stops the sun’s light from refracting off the moon. When the Earth eclipses the sun, it casts two types of shadow on the moon, a larger shadow known as the penumbra, and a smaller, darker shadow known as the umbra. There are three types of Lunar Eclipse:

a) Total Lunar is the striking of the three because it turn moon a sunset red, the brightness of the moon’s red glow depends on the dust and clouds present in the earth’s atmosphere.

  b)Partial  Lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth, the moon, and the sun don’t perfectly align, so only a part of the moon passes into earth’s umbra.

c)Penumbra Lunar Eclipse happens when the Moon is totally submerged in the earth’s penumbral cone without reaching the umbra.

A Lunar Eclipse happens up to three times a year, and unlike a Solar Eclipse, it is safe to stare at the moon with the naked eye. We can only see a Total Lunar Eclipse because of the Sun and Moon’s respective distances from the Earth. The Moon is distancing from the Earth every year, and one day, billions of years from now, it will be too far away to fall totally under the umbral shadow of the earth.

What is Total Lunar Eclipse?

When the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, its shadow falls on the moon, causing a Total Lunar Eclipse. When the eclipse reaches totality, observers can see the moon become reddish in color. During a Total Lunar Eclipse, the entire moon is engulfed by the Umbra, the darkest portion of Earth’s shadow. Up to 99.1% of the moon’s surface will be within Earth’s umbra during this eclipse.

Syzygy, which derives from the Greek word for being paired together, is the astronomical name for this form of alignment. The sun, earth, and moon must be nearly aligned in a line for a Lunar Eclipse to occur. Or else, the Earth would not be able to cast a shadow on the moon’s surface, preventing an eclipse.

A Total Lunar Eclipse generally occurs within few minutes. However, the duration of completeness might range from a few seconds to over 100 minutes. The Total Lunar eclipse of July 26, 1953, was the longest as it took 100 minutes and 43 seconds to complete.

Main Differences Between Lunar and Total Lunar Eclipse?

1. During a Lunar Eclipse, the moon enters the shadow of the Earth. Whereas the sun, earth, and

   moon must all be aligned perfectly for there to be a Total Lunar Eclipse.

2. Every year, there are at least two Lunar Eclipses which can go up to five. Whereas,  every 2.5 years,

    there is a Total Lunar Eclipse.

3.  A Lunar Eclipse has three phases, whereas a Total Lunar Eclipse comprises all three phases.

4. When the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, it causes a Lunar Eclipse. When the moon and

     sun is on the opposite side of the Earth, A Total Lunar Eclipse occurs.

5.  During the Lunar Eclipse the color of the moon is red. However, in a Total Lunar Eclipse, the color of    

     the moon varies.


An eclipse occurs when a celestial object, such as a planet or moon, passes between another planet or moon and its light source, the sun, in our solar system. Because the moon is in a constant orbit around the Earth, the amount of light it receives from the sun and the amount of moon visible from Earth varies. The celestial movement of the heavenly bodies is full of surprises and mysteries. These movements cause changes in the environment as well as in human bodies. Many scientists and scholars have discovered  astonishing and surprising things about the universe. However, there are still many questions about the universe to be answered.


  • https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00302522
  • http://adsabs.harvard.edu/pdf/1956ApJ…123..325S