The Astrology Page Blog: What is an Eclipse?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What is an Eclipse?

With the solar eclipse coming up on 9/22/06, here is some background information on an eclipse to help you understand what is going on.

Eclipses have been around for thousands of years. Our ancestors believed they were an evil omen, and that reputation has followed them down through the ages. In the past it was noticed that they caused strange things to happen; day would suddenly turn to night, flowers would close up, and animals would howl or drop to the ground in sleep.

In astrology there is a correlation with evil partly because of the proximity of the nodes. The nodes of the Moon are imaginary points in the sky where the Moon crosses the ecliptic, which is the normal path of the Sun in the sky. There are two nodes. One is the beneficial north node, or head of the dragon, symbolic of the future, and the other is the malefic south node, the tail of the dragon, symbolic of the past. Whether the eclipses were thought to be evil because of the nodes, or the nodes became evil because of the eclipse, we may only wonder.

An eclipse occurs when the light of the sun is blocked either by the Moon or the Earth. One hint that an eclipse is coming is the proximity to the nodes of the Moon.

Occasionally I have heard of a transit of Mercury or Venus across the Sun called an eclipse, but this is incorrect for they are too small to block out the Sun. There is a special term for this event, and it is called an occultation. It may be small, but it is just as powerful as a solar eclipse. The Transit of Venus looked like a tiny little pinhole on the sun.


There are two types of eclipses - Solar or Lunar

A solar eclipse occurs at the new moon when the Moon is so perfectly aligned between the Earth and the Sun that it blocks out the light of the Sun. The pictures are very dramatic, showing a dark ball covering most of the Sun, often with a fiery ring around the edge.

As the eclipse starts, the sky slowly begins to darken, and we start to see a very unusual diffused light turning day into dusk; in some areas it becomes dark as night. The duration of each eclipse varies.

A solar eclipse is like the new moon, it is all about new beginnings, but it holds more importance for a longer period of time, and events are more noticeable and dramatic.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon and blocks the light of the Moon, the reflected light of the sun. Think of a full Moon with a heavy cloud cover causing an eerie light and you will get a sense of way it looks. The duration of effects is about 6 months, or to the next lunar eclipse.

The symbolism of a lunar eclipse is similar to a full Moon, except that it is much more powerful. It is a completion or finishing of some project that we have been working on.


Variations of a Solar Eclipse - Total, Partial, Annular, and Hybrid

The difference between these 3 eclipses is caused by the distance of the Moon to the Earth. A total eclipse results when the Moon is close to the Earth, aligned perfectly with the sun, and large enough to totally block the sun. This is very rare, you may only see one in your entire lifetime. This also makes the path of this eclipse very narrow. I have read that the Moon is slowly moving away from the Earth and that at some time in the far, far, future total eclipses will be a thing of the past. So enjoy them, and write about them, because your ancestors may doubt they ever happened, just like we doubt Atlantis.

The annular eclipse is more common. This happens when the Moon is further away from the Earth and not able to totally block out the sun, so we are able to see more of the corona around the Sun.

In a partial eclipse the Sun and Moon do not line up precisely, and the Moon only blocks out part of the Sun. Often it looks as if the Moon is taking a bite out of the Sun.

The hybrid eclipse which is also rare, is a combination of total and annular. The eclipse starts out annular, goes to total, and then back to annular at the end. This has to do with the curvature of the Earth's surface.


Duration of the Eclipse

In astrology the duration of effects is based on the length of the eclipse, and forecasts can be anywhere from six months to three years, but it may be longer. In other words the duration of the eclipse may effect the length of time that it will trigger events. (Astrologers differ on the length of effects, many astrologers say it's only six months, no matter how long the eclipse.)


Area of Visibility

The area of visibility is the path of the eclipse. This is the due to the shape of the earth and the area over which the Sun and Moon will travel during the time that they're together. What you see depends on your angle to the sun, determined by your location. Even if it is an annular, you may only see it as a partial.


The Nodes

When the Sun and Moon are together in a solar eclipse they will be conjunct either the north or the south node. This tells us whether the influence is positive or negative.

If the Sun and Moon are with the north node, is said to bring a positive influence. If they are with the south node, dire things are predicted. It was common for the ancient stargazers to foretell extreme doom and gloom, but think of the conditions they lived under. I prefer to think of it in a different way. A north node eclipse is new territory, and we are urged to go forward into totally unknown place, into an exciting, unpredictable future, to be open to fresh, new ideas, and a big evolutionary leap. A south node eclipse has to do with upgrading our previously developed talents, and using them to bring about new ways.

I'll use the wheel as an example. The wheel, used for transportation, was one of those inventions that totally transformed society and there really was nothing like it before. Then at the turn of the century, we went from wagons to motorized cars. A new form of transportation based on a previous idea. When the airplane was invented, this was another leap. Other leaps that we are familiar with have to do with communication.

Of course, your personal chart is always the best guide.



The Saros Series

Eclipses have a beginning and an end and they have a cycle of about 12 -13 centuries. They are born at one pole, move toward the equator, and finish up at the other pole. This sequence is called the Saros Series and they are labeled either a north or south series. Each series or "family" of eclipses is about eighteen years apart.


How Will it Affect You?

Aspects of the solar eclipse to planets in your natal chart will tell you how the eclipse will affect you, and how strong the effect will be. If it is triggering one of the personal planets, or Mars, Jupiter or Saturn, it will be personal. If it is an outer planet, the effect will be more societal, and generational. The aspects will tell if it is easy, bringing good things without much effort on your part, or if you'll have to work to recieve the benefits. The house will tell you which area of life it will affect. Don't forget to look at the house/s ruled by the planet/s receiving the eclipse, and the houses ruled by the Sun and the Moon. I normally allow a one degree orb, but at times I have seen affects from larger orbs. A larger orb seems to be more psychological than eventful.


Gazing at an Eclipse

Your eyes must be protected when looking at the sun. No matter what anyone says about their experience, it is better to be safe than sorry. People who live where the sun is strong have problems just from going to the beach. Looking directly into the sun may cause blindness, and at the least, it will harm the white part of the eye, it actually melts it. So always get special eclipse glasses or viewers, not sunglasses, no matter how expensive they are. You want to enjoy your viewing experience and have many good memories.

tag: eclipse

2 Comments:

Blogger alfren said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMFG!

5:40 PM  

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