What is an Eclipse?


Eclipse is often mistakenly thought of as simply being a Java IDE; however, its capabilities go much beyond this. Eclipse serves as a platform for building integrated development environments (IDEs), including plug-ins for an extensive list of tools.

Eclipse saves every editable file to its local version history and can access these versions via its History view for comparison purposes or reverting back to an earlier version of it.


Eclipses have long been a source of fear and dread among cultures with written histories, particularly prior to sophisticated mathematical systems being available for forecasting when eclipses will take place. If a ruler were experiencing problems at home or elsewhere, total solar eclipses often happened just when darkness seemed ominous – often at times that seemed foretelling disaster or death.

Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian War first described an eclipse around 500 BCE. From here, eclipse is ultimately derived from Greek verb ekleipsis which means to become overshadowed or overtaken.

Ancient astronomers attempted to understand eclipses and attempted to understand why they occurred, yet could only speculate as to their causes. Their first inklings came from Babylonian priest-mathematicians, who looked back through past eclipse records on clay tablets to determine that similar eclipses happened under similar conditions and separated by what Edmund Halley described as one Saros cycle.

At Aristotle’s time, astronomy had made great advances. He noticed how during a solar eclipse the shape of its shadow shifts as the moon passes across the sky – providing evidence of Earth being round.

Ancient mythology depicted eclipses as an expression of divine displeasure, prompting people to appease their gods in order to prevent further eclipses from occurring. Some tribes believed Fenrir was responsible for eclipses by devouring it, while others saw an eclipse as a signal that Inti was upset and needed appeasing, with sacrifices being performed to appease his anger through animal or even human sacrifice.

Chinese civilization had long tracked eclipses for millennia before they discovered another way of interpreting them during the Shang dynasty: placing special marked bones over fire to create cracks that were read by diviners to predict prophecies about future events.

More recently, eclipses have become a tool used by scientists. For instance, German astronomer Friedrich Bessel’s calculations in 1824 enabled modern astronomers to gain more insight into exactly when and why eclipses occur. His work enabled modern scientists to track changes to eclipses using modern imaging techniques such as satellite photography.


Eclipses occur when a celestial body–such as the Moon or planet–moves into the shadow cast by another celestial body, such as Earth or Moon. For centuries this event has intrigued human cultures around the globe, leading to legends and myths related to eclipses. When speaking of eclipses most often refers to solar and lunar eclipses which take place when Earth, Sun, Moon align in what astronomers refer to as syzygy (an ancient Greek term meaning “yoked together”).

As the Earth orbits around the Sun, so too does its satellite Moon move on its own orbital plane. At certain points along its orbital plane intersecting with Earth-Sun line called ecliptic lies lunar nodes which may trigger eclipses depending on where these nodes fall on ecliptic.

The type of eclipse will determine what can be seen from any given location. A full eclipse occurs when more of its path falls within either the umbra (darkest part) or penumbra (lighter part) shadow zones; otherwise a partial eclipse occurs as a result of Moon passing through only part of either umbra/penumbra shadow zone, only covering part of Sun surface at any one time.

Due to the Moon’s apparent smaller size compared with that of the Sun, total solar eclipses are uncommon. But had its orbit been perfectly circular and its plane had intersected exactly with Earth-Sun line at each new moon there would be one each month; as is often the case though its current orbit tilts off by 5 degrees which results in eclipse seasons with up to five total eclipses annually; only two can actually occur!

Hybrid solar eclipses, which begin as annular and progress to totality along much of their centerline path, are very rare; only seven have occurred this century and 2031 will see another one occur.


The Sun and Moon orbit Earth at different planes, creating nodes where their orbits intersect, leading to eclipses at these nodes. At these nodes eclipses can take place with different forms (partial, annular or total), depending on which body appears smaller in relation to each other; for a solar eclipse to take place it must be smaller while for an annular eclipse it should be larger compared with its counterpart – either way the results in totality!

Total solar eclipses are narrow and brief events. At times of totality, the Moon casts its shadow on Earth as an inverted cone shape with one end nearer the Moon than another; its shadow narrows and moves faster as it covers more area on the planet’s surface, lasting only 7 minutes and 31 seconds over its total path across its surface.

This year’s solar eclipse stands out in that its path will pass through an urban region and national parks, drawing in millions of Americans who live within its path and those who plan to travel from far distances to witness it. As eclipse day draws nearer, emphasis will shift away from teaching people the science behind the event towards logistical concerns such as travel arrangements, accommodations needs and weather considerations.

Living along this path will be an unforgettable experience, offering them the chance to witness the Sun’s corona, outer atmosphere and other celestial phenomena for themselves. They’ll experience dramatic light shifts as night falls; also discovering colors and details they hadn’t noticed during daylight.

Don’t fret if you fall outside of the path; there will still be ample opportunities to view eclipses in the future. There will be eight total solar eclipses across America over the next century that should all be visible from some part of the country, plus other total and annular eclipses visible elsewhere worldwide.


No need to state the obvious, but it bears repeating: never stare directly into a solar eclipse as doing so can permanently damage your eyes and lead to eclipse blindness, an eye condition caused by staring directly at the sun for too long.

Children must always be supervised by an adult who understands and follows safe eclipse viewing procedures. Only use glasses or handheld solar viewers specifically designed for this purpose that meet international standards. You could also try indirect methods, like projecting an image of the eclipsed Sun onto a flat surface with a pinhole projector to avoid looking directly at unfiltered Sun during an eclipse.

An eclipse is an extraordinary and spectacular phenomenon that only comes around every few years, offering unforgettable views for people of all ages. Yet eclipses also present unique public health and safety challenges as large crowds descend upon unfamiliar sites at once.

Increased crowds can lead to traffic congestion, delays and safety risks; additionally an eclipse may create food and water shortages in certain areas. To address these concerns, the New York State Department of Health is working with local agencies in planning an enjoyable eclipse experience for all.

The totality path will cross through 15 states and include many of the largest cities in America – something not seen since 1924! Another eclipse with such a path won’t occur for another 400 years!

The Eclipse Foundation is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to overseeing the ongoing development of Eclipse open source software project. Members include leading Java, Linux and embedded vendors such as IBM RedHat Oracle JBoss BEA Borland Novell QNX; additionally they focus on nurturing an eco-system which complements and extends Eclipse Platform.

The Eclipse ecosystem encompasses over 140 projects with hundreds of contributors. A small group of committers oversee which contributions will be integrated into the Eclipse code base; furthermore, hundreds of plug-ins developed by the Eclipse community add functionality to the platform used by commercial software vendors as well as users of it.

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