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A broad term that can be defined as the significant lessening in brightness of one body due to the motion of one or more others. Eclipses belong to a class of phenomena more properly called occultations (literally, the 'hiding' of one body by another), but there are three classes of occultation universally referred to as 'eclipses':

  1. A large body passing between the Sun and an observer, cutting off or reducing its light. Solar eclipses as observed on Earth belong to this type.
  2. Earth's shadow passing across the face of the Moon, a relatively common occurrence known as a lunar eclipse.
  3. One element of a binary star system passing in front of the other, thereby reducing the magnitude of the entire system.


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