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Solar Eclipse (Sun) Lunar Eclipse (Moon) How Eclipses happen
The eclipse of the Moon, when the light of the Moon mysteriously darkens at the luminous height of a Full Moon, has traditionally been viewed as a bad omen. It can awaken distinctly irrational responses. Since the Moon governs domestic matters, the public and the emotional personality, rather than leadership, it tends to have a more personal effect than the solar eclipse, which plays a more outward, even political, role.
The fourth lunar eclipse of 2009 (in Cancer on Dec 31) is a minor eclipse, the last of four during the year. This eclipse is partial, so not darkening the entirety of the Moon's light; it will be mainly visible in Europe, Africa and Asia, with the greatest eclipse over Gujarat, India. Interestingly, as I pointed out in the article on the July 09 Solar Eclipse, this is where in 2002 archaeologists discovered the site of a sunken city with artifacts carbon-dated to more than 9000 years ago, showing that civilisation existed not long after the end of the last Ice Age. It will be possible to observe it at moonrise in the very easternmost parts of the Americas and should be visible at moonset throughout most of Australia, though not in New Zealand. To download a PDF of NASA's graphic illustration of the Moon's path through Earth's shadows, as well as Fred Espenak's map illustrating worldwide visibility, click here.
The Full Moon Lunar Eclipse on December 31st, 2009 occurs at 10°15' Cancer, in conjunction with the Fixed Star Alhena, a star which is reputed to be favourable for hunting, besieging towns, and the revenge of princes! It would be wise to avoid travel at this time, if you can. Known as "the wound in the tendon of Achilles" it destroys fruits and harvests. As it hinders the operation of the physician, avoid operations on this day (New Year's Eve no doubt will have few of these...) and in the two weeks leading up to the solar eclipse on Jan 15. Cancer is an emotional sign, ruled by the Moon, so since neither the Sun nor the Moon form any promising aspects on this day, expect quite an emotional, even teary New Year's Eve.
The eclipse of the Sun has traditionally been viewed with dread over the ages, as the great giver of life seems inexplicably to disappear from the sky. Birds prepare for bed; the sky darkens in the middle of the day. It seems as though something dreadful is about to happen. Over the years, experience has shown us that old things come to an end (or are overthrown!) under a solar eclipse and a new beginning can be made. The effect on the world of eclipses has been seen to be generally felt for some six months, until the next eclipse then restructures the cosmic energies.
Astrologically, solar eclipses signify the fall of the mighty (or at least, they're in big trouble!). Depending where in the zodiac the eclipse occurs, stress is always placed on the matters governed by that sign, or sector of the zodiac. A powerful Solar Eclipse can create massive havoc, in accordance with other aspects in the heavens at the time, as can be clearly seen by the trail of earthquakes and other disasters associated with the Solar Eclipse and Grand Cross of August 1999.
At a more personal level, the solar eclipse can have a big effect on our personal lives when it occurs in conjunction with one of our natal planets, especially our natal Sun, Moon, or Ruling Planet. Other important chart factors, such as Moon's Nodes, Ascendant, Mid-heaven, or Part of Fortune can also have a very significant effect when impacted by a solar eclipse. Where the eclipse falls in the chart is significant, as the energies expressed by its house placement will show the areas of life that are affected by the new beginning that is implied.
The first solar eclipse of 2010 is an annular eclipse of the Sun, at the New Moon in Capricorn on January 15th. This eclipse will be visible over a wide pathway, allowing millions in Africa, Europe and Asia to see it. It will therefore be of considerable significance, as the more visible the eclipse, the more powerful its effects on us earthlings. During the eclipse, the 300 km wide path of the Moon's dark antumbral shadow moves over Central and East Africa, turning north over the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, reaching greatest eclipse over the Maldives, then racing towards South India and Sri Lanka, moving on to Burma, then China, and finally fizzling out just before it reaches Korea. A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes eastern Europe, most of Africa, Asia, and Indonesia. Unfortunately no eclipse is visible from the Americas, Western Europe, or Australia.
To mark it out in a little more detail, the eclipse path begins in the west of the Central African Republic at 05:14 UT, near the border with Cameroon and Chad. Because the Moon is near its apogee, its greater-than-normal distance from Earth produces an unusually wide eclipse path. Travelling eastward, the shadow quickly sweeps through Uganda, Kenya and southern Somalia. For the next two hours, it crosses the Indian Ocean, its course slowly curving from east-southeast to northeast. Greatest eclipse occurs at 07:06:33 UT, when the eclipse magnitude will reach 0.9190. At this instant, the duration is 11 minutes 8 seconds, the path width is 333 kilometers and the Sun is 66° above the ocean's flat horizon. This long annular duration will not be exceeded for over 1000 years, in Dec. 23, 3043. Gosh.
As the central track continues northeastwards, it soon encounters land in the luscious, tropical Maldive Islands at 07:26 UT. Malé, the Maldive capital, experiences an annular eclipse lasting 10 minutes 45 seconds – the longest duration for any city in the eclipse track with an international airport. Interestingly, Malé (pop. approx 104,000) may be the smallest capital city in the world!
When the antumbra reaches Asia, the central line passes directly between the southern tip of India and northern Sri Lanka at 07:51 UT. Quickly sweeping over the Bay of Bengal, the shadow reaches Burma, and by 08:41 UT, the central line enters China. The shadow crosses the Himalayas through Yunnan and Sichuan provinces; Chongqing lies directly on its path, witnessing an eclipse duration of 7 minutes 50 seconds, as the Sun sinks slowly in the west. Racing through parts of Shaanxi and Hubei provinces, the antumbra's speed increases as the duration decreases. In its final moments, the antumbra travels down the Shandong Peninsula in Northeastern China, just short of Korea, leaving the Earth's surface at 08:59 UT.please click here. Or you can view some excellent images here.
For more on the science of eclipses, see Fred Espenak's NASA Eclipse Home Page.
This eclipse occurs at 25°01' of Capricorn, the sign of the Sea Goat, in conjunction with Venus on the day that Mercury turns direct after several weeks of retrograde motion. So it should be beneficent and pleasurable, releasing built-up tension, and leading strongly towards a brand new beginning for the world and its people.
This solar eclipse occurs in conjunction with President Obama's natal Saturn in Capricorn, awakening both secret enmity and self-doubt. Saturn in his natal chart is in the twelfth house, and, with Mars retrograde and applying to his natal Sun in his seventh house of enemies, he also needs to deal with open enmity and confrontation, possibly even warfare. So the knives are out. The stars are warning him not to permit himself to be stabbed in the back while fending off attacks from the front. Mars first crossed his Sun in mid-November, then recrosses it in retro mode on Jan 21, with mighty Jupiter changing signs to Pisces. Mars releases this aspect in the first week of May 2010. The Jupiter transit, in square to his natal Moon, will see him rethinking his alliances and reconsidering in the year ahead what it is that truly makes him happy in his role.
When we look at his Washington chart, which is perhaps most proper in terms of his role as leader of what used to be called the Free World, we see that the eclipse occurs in his eighth house of other people's money; no surprise there. Yet the eighth house is also the house of life's mysteries, especially sex, death and taxes. This eclipse may mark a death in his intimate circle, hopefully not his own, but it will also mark the need to release an old situation, in order to find something his soul requires. He must trust his instincts, or he will be swamped by conflicting demands, particularly those concerning extravagance that has little real value...
Solar eclipses don't often pass over populated areas, but when they do, as in this case, they appear to have significant disruptive effects on the people and nations concerned (e.g., economic or political crises, civil unrest). Africa, Sri Lanka, and East Asia contain many flashpoints, so let us pray that no big flareups occur. Solar Eclipses also seem either to trigger or amplify natural events in the regions they affect (e.g., severe weather, earthquakes). Whether this effect is an astrological one or not, is a moot point, though recent scientific work on the effects of the Moon on earthquakes and other terrestrial phenomena is interesting. No doubt they would hasten to deny any astrological effect! See my article on Moon Wobbles. The eclipse being in Capricorn means that people with Cardinal signs (Cancer; Libra; Capricorn; Aries) featured in their birthcharts are more likely to be affected. The next eclipse of the Sun will be on July 11th, 2010.
Eclipses of the Sun or of the Moon are material, astronomical events, obvious to the naked eye, and as regular and as predictable as clockwork. They have an evident physical effect, as the light of either the Sun or the Moon is noticeably dimmed during the period of the eclipse. This is a scientific phenomenon, one which has been carefully observed since quite primitive times. In astrology, which studies the cosmic phenomena in terms of their effects on the lives of beings that inhabit the Earth, an eclipse is also a psychological, spiritual, social and emotional phenomenon. This aspect of eclipses has also been studied intensely, since before the beginning of civilisation.
In ancient times, priests and astrologers discovered how to predict eclipses, having realised their significance. Using observation and mathematics, they prepared reliable tables, utilising their knowledge of the movement of the Moon's Nodes, that have hardly been surpassed for accuracy until the recent advent of the computer. The Moon's Nodes mark the points where the path of the Moon's orbit around the Earth crosses the plane of the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun and planets around the Earth) as viewed from the surface of the Earth. An eclipse takes place when either a New Moon (producing a Solar Eclipse) or a Full Moon (producing a Lunar Eclipse) occurs close to either of the Nodes.
The Moon's light is reflected from the Sun, as the Moon does not shine of her own accord. Each month the Moon in her orbit travels completely around the Earth; the New and Full Moons happen as the Sun aligns with the Moon, either in conjunction or opposition. These powerful periods are called lunations. Among other effects on the world, they generate the tides, as well as stimulating primeval zoological, biological and botanical phenomena which are well-documented in the scientific literature.
When lunations are also eclipses, their effect is even more powerful — although solar eclipses are generally more strongly felt than lunar eclipses. Eclipses usually occur in pairs, with either a lunar eclipse (Full Moon) heralding a solar eclipse (New Moon) about two weeks later, or vice versa. The energy of any lunation is always most strongly felt a day or so before the Moon (emotions; habit patterns; the public) reaches the exact alignment with the Sun (character; rationality; rulers).
At a Full Moon, when the Earth, Sun and Moon are so closely aligned that the Earth is located precisely between the Sun and the Moon, the shadow of the Earth covers the face of the Moon generating a Lunar Eclipse. The light of the Moon is darkened temporarily. It is safe to observe the Lunar Eclipse, or to take photographs, as there is no likelihood of eye damage, unlike the dangers during a Solar Eclipse.
For more on the science of eclipses, click here. Remember when looking at this astronomical material that they are using the sidereal zodiac, whilst we are using the tropical zodiac, so sign placements may seem out of whack with those mentioned here. This is due to the cosmic phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, which makes the tropical zodiac of the seasons, as used on this site, seem out of sync with the constellations. This factor however has no effect on the predictive power of astrology.
Although the actual size of the Moon is much smaller than the size of the Sun, one of the most remarkable facts about our universe is that, when viewed from the Earth during a total eclipse, the Moon's disc exactly covers the disc of the Sun. The odds against such a striking coincidence happening in the one known area of the Universe where intelligent beings can experience it are, in a word, astronomical! This is one more in a long list of phenomena that inclines this writer to believe that our world is much more like a mind than a thing. See Is Astrology Scientific, for more on this approach.
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