Moon did block sun during total solar eclipse

30 April 2024
What was claimed

The moon didn’t block the sun during the solar eclipse.

Our verdict

This isn’t correct. The moon is what blocks the sun during a solar eclipse. It can’t be seen beforehand as it’s a new moon, where the illuminated side is facing away from the Earth.

A video circulating on social media falsely claims that it was not the moon that caused the recent total solar eclipse.

The post, which has been shared over 6,000 times on Facebook, and liked over 15,000 times on Instagram, has the caption: “Where was the moon during the solar eclipse?”

During the video, the creator says: “That wasn’t the moon that blocked the sun.” The video also includes a clip of the solar eclipse with text overlaying it saying “SOLAR ECLIPSE NO MOON”.

A total solar eclipse—where the sun is completely blocked by the moon—was visible in parts of North America, Mexico and Canada on 8 April this year. A partial eclipse was visible in some parts of Scotland.

However, contrary to what is claimed in the video, it was the moon that blocked the sun during the eclipse.

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Where is the moon during a solar eclipse?

What we see of the moon on Earth is sunlight reflected off of its surface

But during a solar eclipse, the moon goes directly in front of the sun so only the ‘dark side’ of the moon can be seen from our planet. The moon’s shadow travels over the Earth’s surface, creating the appearance of the eclipse for those in the shadow’s path.

Total solar eclipses happen every 18 months or so. For one to occur, the moon must be in its ‘new moon’ phase with its orbit bringing it directly between Earth and the sun.

During a new moon, the sunlight reflected off the moon does not reach the earth. At this time the side of the moon facing the Earth is in darkness, and it can’t usually be seen, either in daylight or at night. 

This may explain why the man in the video says he couldn’t see the moon just before the eclipse, despite the skies being “crystal clear”.

A new moon can only be seen from Earth during a solar eclipse when its orbit means it aligns with the sun, fully or partially blocking its face.

The next total solar eclipse won’t take place until 12 August 2026, where it will be visible from Greenland, Iceland, Spain, Russia, and a small area of Portugal. 

We have previously fact checked other false claims involving the moon, including that Buzz Aldrin said he never went there, and that the sun and the moon are the same size.

Image courtesy of ESA/CESAR/Wouter van Reeven

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