Can a lunar and a solar eclipse happen in the same month? When will this happen next? (Intermediate)

Please let me know whether two eclipses (one lunar and one solar) can occur in a month. Has there been any record of such an event occurring. If such an event is theoretically possible can you please tell when this might have occurred in the past. Thanks.

I can't think of any reason why this shouldn't happen. As I'm sure you know, solar eclipses occur at new Moon if the orbital plane of the Moon is lined up just right so that the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun. Lunar eclipses occur at full Moon, if the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth. This will be happening in fact in June of this year, with an annular solar eclipse on the 10th (annular means that the Moon is a tiny bit further than usual so doesn't quite cover all the Sun, leaving an annulus around the edge) and a penumbral lunar eclipse on the 24th. If you would like to learn more about this please see the eclipse page.

I am grateful for the clarification and information provided. My previous query included a part on past historical eclipses also. The reason for this question is because in the great Indian epic Mahabharatha it is mentioned that during the war at Kurukshetra (lat=29N, long=79E north of Delhi) two eclipses occurred within a month. Now the date of the war has been highly controversial. Dates such as 5000Bc, 3102BC, 1424, 1397/1400BC, 1200-1042BC, 1152, 950 and 800BC have been proposed based on a variety of considerations. If you could kindly provide dates of ancient twin solar and lunar eclipses for the above location we may get a fresh lead to the possible dates of the epic. Thanks for your cooperation.

I think it should be possible to date the event with this information, but I think it would take a long search, which presumably is why it hasn't been done. To get you started here are two good sites on eclipses with other links:

Although I think you may find that the library might have books on historical eclipses and that might be a better place to start.

When will this happen next?

You can find that out on the Eclipse Page.

This page was last updated June 28, 2015.

About the Author

Karen Masters

Karen Masters

Karen was a graduate student at Cornell from 2000-2005. She went on to work as a researcher in galaxy redshift surveys at Harvard University, and is now on the Faculty at the University of Portsmouth back in her home country of the UK. Her research lately has focused on using the morphology of galaxies to give clues to their formation and evolution. She is the Project Scientist for the Galaxy Zoo project.

Twitter:  @KarenLMasters

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