Umbra, penumbra and antumbra

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Umbra, penumbra and antumbra of Earth and images that could be seen at some points in these areas (note: sizes and distances are not to scale).
Umbra (A) and penumbra (B)

The umbra, penumbra and antumbra are three distinct parts of a shadow, created by any light source after impinging on an opaque object. For a point source only the umbra is cast.

These names are most often used for the shadows cast by celestial bodies, though they are sometimes used to describe levels of darkness, such as in sunspots.


Umbra, penumbra, and antumbra formed through windows and shutters

The umbra (Latin for "shadow") is the innermost and darkest part of a shadow, where the light source is completely blocked by the occluding body. An observer in the umbra experiences a total eclipse. The umbra of a round body occluding a round light source forms a right circular cone; to a viewer at the cone's apex, the two bodies are equal in apparent size. The distance from the Moon to the apex of its umbra is roughly equal to that between the Moon and Earth. Because the Earth is 3.70 times wider than the Moon, its umbra extends correspondingly farther, roughly 1.4 million kilometers.[1]


An outer artially dark region at the edges is called penumbra.


Scale diagram of Earth's shadow, showing how the umbral cone extends beyond the orbit of the Moon (the Moon is indicated by the yellow dot).


The antumbra (from Latin ante, "before") is the region from which the occluding body appears entirely contained within the disc of the light source. An observer in this region experiences an annular eclipse, in which a bright ring is visible around the eclipsing body. If the observer moves closer to the light source, the apparent size of the occluding body increases until it causes a full umbra.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lecture 9: Eclipses of the Sun & Moon". Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  2. ^ Event Finding Subsystem Preview Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility.