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Eclipse! Eclipse!

Everything you might want to know about the recent total solar eclipse

The huge item in the news has been the total solar eclipse. Sky News had a three hour programme following the eclipse as it tracked from Mexico across the United States to Canada. Did you see it? Did you go? Did you watch it on TV? I saw the pictures on the news but didn’t go out of my way.

Eclipse path 2024The thing that hit me the most in all the mass of facts was that this may be the last time the moon covers the sun so exactly. The moon is moving away from Earth so for each total eclipse in future it will appear smaller than now so it may not cover all the sun. Taking repeated measurements showed us that the Moon is currently moving away from us at a rate of about 3.8 centimetres (1.5 inches) per year.

There was a TV series called Space 1999 which was about the moon leaving Earth’s gravity and wandering through space. The people in the moonbase were shocked and traumatised, worrying about the people left behind. They had lots of adventures with the situations they found themselves in, out in the universe.

I wonder if Earth will lose the moon one day? What effect will that have? According to Popular Mechanics life on Earth will never be the same again. We’ll have fewer aquatic tides, a lengthening day, no more seasons, and no more stunning total solar eclipses. But watch out for more asteroid impacts.

According to the Royal Observatory Greenwich,
“It is the pull of the Moon’s gravity on the Earth that holds our planet in place. Without the Moon stabilising our tilt, it is possible that the Earth’s tilt could vary wildly. It would move from no tilt (which means no seasons) to a large tilt (which means extreme weather and even ice ages).”

But don’t worry. According to the BBC, the Sun’s own calamitous demise will probably intervene long before that happens in around 5-10 billion years. [Whew!]

Eclipses in the next decadeIf you missed the eclipse, don’t worry. has collected pictures from around the web, and has also provided a guide to the top total eclipses in the next decade.

Head shot Ann Marie ThomasAnn Marie Thomas is the author of five medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel, Intruders, Alien Secrets & Crisis of Conscience are out now Follow her at