Russian Language Blog

6 Russian Words For Talking About The Solar Eclipse Posted by on Aug 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

On August 21, people in North America could view a solar eclipse for the first time in 38 years. If you would like to discuss this rare event with your friends, here are six Russian words you may need.

partial solar eclipse

Image from Pixabay


The basic word to know is затмение, eclipse. This word is related to тёмный (dark) and темнота (darkness). The moon blocking the sun is called солнечное затмение (a solar eclipse), and the earth blocking sunlight from the moon is called лунное затмение (a lunar eclipse).

  • Вчера́ жи́тели четы́рнадцати америка́нских шта́тов получи́ли уника́льную возмо́жность наблюда́ть по́лное со́лнечное затме́ние.
    The residents of 14 American states had a unique opportunity to see a total solar eclipse yesterday.


Солнце (the sun, pronounced сонце) is another important word for talking about astronomy. A related term, солнышко (literally, “little sun”) is a term of endearment.

  • …со́лнце мо́жет за не́сколько секу́нд сжечь фотоаппара́т.
    … The sun can burn your camera in a matter of seconds.


There are actually two words for the moon is Russian. Луна normally refers to the full moon, while месяц refers to the crescent moon. Of course, this is not an exact science, and the in-between cases will be up to the speaker. Месяц is also the word for a month.

  • …в после́дний раз тень от Луны́ покрыва́ла шта́ты от побере́жья до побере́жья в 1918 году.
    The last time the moon’s shadow covered the states coast to coast was in 1918.
eclipse shades

Eclipse shades
Image from Kevin Hale on


Тень is the word for a shadow/shade. Тенистый means shaded/shady (literally shaded from the sun, not underhanded), while теневой means “gray, unregulated” (e.g. теневая экономика, informal economy).

  • Пока́ шло затме́ние, МКС три ра́за пересекла́ траекто́рию движе́ния лу́нной те́ни.
    During the eclipse, the International Space Station crossed the trajectory of the moon’s shadow three times.(Source)


Очки (always plural) are eyeglasses. Солнцезащитные очки (sunglasses, л is silent) are supposed to protect you from UV light (ультрафиолет), although you still shouldn’t stare directly at the sun.

  • Ме́дики предупрежда́ют, что наблюде́ние за со́лнцем без защи́тных очко́в грози́т серьёзными офтальмологи́ческими пробле́мами.
    Medical specialists warn that watching the sun without protective glasses may cause serious vision problems.
pinhole projector

I love this makeshift pinhole projector!
Image from Bruce Washburn on


If you did not have special protective glasses to look at the eclipse, you could have looked at its projection using камера-обскура (a pinhole camera). Many people in the path of the eclipse made one for the first time since their photography projects in school.

  • Са́мый безопа́сный спо́соб наблюда́ть за затме́нием – ка́мера-обску́ра.
    A pinhole camera is the safest way to watch an eclipse.
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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.