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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Earth Orbital Diagram
You shouldn't look directly at a partial eclipse because of the damage that can be caused by improperly aligning the solar-lunar orbital plane with the orbital bones around your eye.
Title text: You shouldn't look directly at a partial eclipse because of the damage that can be caused by improperly aligning the solar-lunar orbital plane with the orbital bones around your eye.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a BOT - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

Moreover, many of the labels provided are kludged, obfuscated, or simply made up. Compare/contrast with the standard Kepler Orbit diagram. Most easily recognizable are the "Dimples of Venus," referring to axis-intersection points in the diagram on Earth.


Word used in the comics Meaning Actual astronomical term
Declension Inflection of nouns in a language. Inclination

This comic is the third consecutive comic published in the week before the solar eclipse occurring on Monday, August 21, 2017 which is a total solar eclipse and visible in totality within a band across the contiguous United States from west to east. The other comics are 1876: Eclipse Searches and 1877: Eclipse Science.

The comic claims that the reason that eclipses don't happen every month is simple to understand by looking at an orbital diagram. Ironically, the cartoon has so many parts and labels which make it far more difficult to understand than is implied. Many of the terms used are also incorrect and have nothing to do with orbital mechanics.

All these labels are complicated words, some are somewhat related to orbital mechanics ("equinox", "perihelion") while some are just latin sounding nouns.

The reason why eclipses do not occur every month is because the Moon and Earth do not orbit on a single plane; the moon's orbit has an angle to it and therefore only rarely passes directly between the Earth and the Sun. This fact is evident from this diagram, although the numerous labels do not contribute to this explanation and in fact exist only to distract or misinform the reader.


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