Rob Tillett has been an astrologer for more than three decades. In previous incarnations a poet, musician, magician, healer, dramatist & composer, he is the editor and publisher of Astrology on the Web and has written many articles on this website.
Rob lives in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, on the east coast of Australia.
Click your sign to see how the Lunar Eclipse affects you!
The Eclipse of the Moon
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.
As a rule, women and family are generally more affected by the lunar cycle, whereas men and politics are signified by the solar. This is not to say that women are not political animals, nor that men are distinct from the family, but that the private, nurturing side is more affected than the public, social and media driven arena, which even in the 21st Century is still primarily dominated by males, or at least by what might be described as masculine energies.
Gemini, by Barbara Nagel
Total Lunar Eclipse in Gemini at the Solstice on December 21st, 2010
The lunar eclipse on December 21st, 2010 occurs at 29°21' Gemini, a Mutable sign, with the Sun in Sagittarius, another Mutable sign (remember, the Sun and Moon are always opposed at a lunar eclipse, since it's a Full Moon). This magnificent spectacle will be the second and final lunar eclipse of 2010, a powerful total eclipse that will be ideal to watch from North America, Greenland and Iceland where the entire event is visible. It's the first total lunar eclipse to occur on the December solstice since 1638! Observers in western Europe and the eastern half of South America will miss the last stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset. Similarly, observers in eastern Asia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand will miss the early stages, because it begins before moonrise. Unfortunately, no eclipse is visible from eastern Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Western Australia.
From start to finish, the eclipse lasts about three and a half hours (not counting the penumbral phases which are difficult to see). The partial eclipse begins as the Moon's eastern edge moves slowly into the Earth's dark shadow, the umbra. It takes just over an hour for the Moon to move entirely into the umbra. The colour and brightness of a totally eclipsed Moon can vary considerably from one eclipse to another, but dark eclipses are caused by volcanic dust blocking much of the Sun's light from reaching the Moon. Recent eruptions of Mount Merapi in Indonesia may produce a darker eclipse, with a deep red or brownish colour during the total phase.
When the Moon is completely immersed within the Earth's dark umbral shadow, scientists call this totality. During this eclipse, totality will last just over 72 minutes—quite a bit longer than the previous total lunar eclipse on February 21, 2008 which lasted 50 minutes. After the total phase ends, we will see a partial eclipse as the Moon gradually leaves the umbral shadow. To view NASA's graphic illustration of the Moon's path through Earth's shadows, as well as Fred Espenak's map illustrating worldwide visibility, click for Mr Eclipse!
The Magician, by Virginijus Poshkus
Eclipse in Gemini
This eclipse is unusual in that Mercury is retrograde, combust (i.e. "burnt" by a close conjunction with a fiery Sagittarian Sun) and opposed by a Geminian Moon. Gemini is ruled by Mercury, so communication is hardly likely to bring much emotional satisfaction. Be prepared to confront other people's opinions and ideas, as getting things to run smoothly will be difficult and any change of heart can bring things to a screaming halt. Situations seem to block progress at every turn. Conflicting activities tend to wreak havoc on schedules, so avoid travel at this time if you can.
As it happens, a Grand Cross—of a sort, if we include the asteroid Juno—in the heavens aggravates the tensions generated by this powerful eclipse. In addition to the stress inherent in the Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse—the Sun (leadership; true self) versus the Moon (the masses; emotional personality)—we see both the Sun and Moon on very unfortunate stars. The Sun is conjunct Sinistra, the left hand of the Serpent Bearer, and the Moon conjunct Polaris, Betelgeuse and Menkalinan, with retrograde Mercury already combust, mute and disorganised in his detriment in Sagittarius. Mercury is in partile square to disruptive Uranus (rebellion; unexpected disaster) in emotional (and disorganised!) Pisces—and opposed to the Moon (the public; habit patterns; feelings). Betelgeuse, a reddish star in the constellation Orion, is considered by the Cabbalists to be associated with the first Tarot Trump, The Magician, and the Hebrew letter Aleph. This is a card of Mercury: charismatic, inventive and scientific—revealer of truth. But Mercury's wisdom is under severe pressure, and being right on the Galactic Centre at the eclipse assures us that events at this time will have a sense of an almost fated significance. What makes this aspect even more disturbing is that Uranus is conjunct Jupiter (expansion; rulers) and opposed to Juno (woman as partner; contracts; divorce; infidelity)—the king and queen of the ancient gods!—as the Sun and Moon hugely expand this aspect, signifying frustration, exaggeration and grandiose expectations undercut by missed details, and misunderstandings of the mood of the public.
Information and ideas must be gathered, methods discussed, and choices made. Difficulty and frustration emerges when we set out to organize everything due to the sheer volume of information. Details can easily slip away, so make sure the information is all there and what you get is accurate. So many details make it difficult to grasp the overall picture. Many people will exaggerate or expand on a situation, or the information at hand (we have already seen this in the scandalous hoax "leak" from Pakistan that was eagerly propagated by a slavering media). Notwithstanding, progress is likely, one way or another. One set of ideas about what’s different or unique may be at odds with other people’s notions.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Founder
It's interesting how this applies to the release of confidential diplomatic material via WikiLeaks and the bubbling pot of fear and loathing that this has stirred between those who believe in openness and freedom of information and their opponents who hold that international diplomacy will be stultified by a lack of confidentiality between governments and their sources. This could unfold to be a real game-changer in the way information is revealed, and how governments manage their international diplomacy. Expect the disempowered to become even more repressed and resentful, as the authorities seek to shore up their positions (see our article on Uranus in Aries). You too may find yourself a little out of sync with those who are trying to communicate with you. It's too easy to approach things in a nonpersonal, societal way, thus misinterpreting what others want you to get on a personal level, or on the other hand, others taking what you say in a personal way when your intention was to discuss the broader implications of the issue.
Other challenging aspects on this day include the Moon squaring Jupiter and Uranus (sudden and grandiose posturing, domestic troubles, reckless expenditure) while opposing the Sun, Mercury and Pluto (mental confusion, conflict between partners, struggles for dominance, associated with unpleasant conditions creating anxiety, worry and sorrow). Only hours later we see Mercury square Jupiter (frustration, exaggeration, missed details) and the Moon opposing Mars (travel accidents; passionate outbursts; sexual promiscuity) followed by a square to Saturn (depressing conditions, fretting, worry; trouble with authorities and old people), but as I mentioned in my Mercury Retrograde article, this is a heavy duty period that will soon be passed by, thank heavens! Before Christmas, hopefully...!
Each of us will experience these stresses according to where the eclipse falls in our own charts. The Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces) will take the brunt, especially if you were born late in the sign. Even though this eclipse and its associated aspects are quite brutal, we can still take positive steps to reduce the stress. The signals from the last Lunar Eclipse (on Jun 26, in Capricorn) are being restated in a way that demands that the issues from the past be dealt with so that we can clear the slate and make a new start in the New Year, when Jupiter moves forward into Aries, joined later by Mars and Uranus . The main thing will be to maintain courtesy and a graceful demeanour, especially in the face of distressing news, or open confrontation. If you have been feeling held back, you can look forward to some more positive developments as the new year unfolds, including when the more fortunate Solar Eclipse takes place on January 4. Political and business operators, however, need to maintain good sense and think long-term.
Click your sign to see how the Solar Eclipse affects you!
The Eclipse of the Sun
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.
Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on January 4th, 2011
Capricorn, by Barbara Nagel
The first solar eclipse of 2011 is a partial eclipse of the Sun, at the New Moon in Capricorn on January 4th. A partial eclipse is when only a part of the eclipsed body of the Sun is blocked out and darkened. It will be visible from much of Europe, North Africa and central Asia. The penumbral shadow first touches Earth's surface in northern Algeria at 06:40:11 UT. As the shadow travels east, Western Europe will be treated to a partial eclipse at sunrise. The eclipse from European cities like Madrid, Paris, London, and Copenhagen will give early risers an excellent opportunity to photograph the sunrise eclipse with interesting foreground scenery.
Greatest eclipse occurs at 08:50:35 UT in northern Sweden, where the eclipse in the horizon will have a magnitude of 0.858. At that time, the axis of the Moon's shadow will pass a mere 510 km above Earth's surface. Most of northern Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia also lie in the path of the eclipse, so the citizens of Cairo, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Tehran will also see a large magnitude partial eclipse.
A sunset eclipse will be visible from central Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northwest China. The partial eclipse ends when the penumbra leaves Earth at 11:00:54 UT. No eclipse will be visible from the Americas, Southern and Eastern Asia, Southern Africa, Australia or New Zealand. Four partial solar and two total lunar eclipses take place in 2011. Fred Espenak says that this 4:2 combination of solar and lunar eclipses in a single year is rather rare with only six cases during the 21st Century (2011, 2029, 2047, 2065, 2076 and 2094). The first and last eclipses always occur in January and December. For more detailed info from Fred Espenak on the path of the eclipse, please click here.
This eclipse occurs at 13°33' of Capricorn, the sign of the Sea-Goat, tightly conjunct the fortunate Fixed Star, Ascella (ζ sagittarii), a star of Jupiter (fortune; expansion; spiritual mind) and Mercury (intellect; communication) in the constellation of the Archer. This star in Indian astrology is in the nakshatra asterism Purva Ashadha, which is ruled by Venus, but it's not a good time to marry, even though for many of us the flame of love will be burning hot! According to Robson, it is associated by the Cabbalists with the Hebrew letter Vau and the 6th Tarot Trump, The Lovers. The Lovers (breaking away from the controlling Emperor as Mercury turns direct on Dec 30) marks a radical change in perspective. Love is a force that makes you choose: you decide for reasons you often can't understand. It makes you surrender to a higher power. So trust your instincts; go for what you're so strongly drawn to—no matter how scary, difficult, irrational or troublesome—for if you don't, you will never be wholly you.
It is interesting that Mars conjunct the Sun in the figure is also conjunct the very fortunate star Dheneb in the tail of the Eagle, which is also associated with The Lovers. With Venus most highly elevated, right on the MC (mid-heaven) in the Universal Time chart and trine Jupiter (one of the finest known aspects), perhaps there's a message here! All You Need Is Love...
Cultural references aside, the outlook for this eclipse is by and large quite positive, with the potential for a genuine reconciliation of opposing forces and a move to restructure society for the better. Not entirely for the better, but at least some people will be giving it a shot, despite opposition from the forces of tradition. [Editor's Note: no doubt this eclipse gave a significant push to the so-called "Arab Awakening" in North Africa and the Middle East! This has seen massive changes in the geopolitical environment since January 2011.] Geophysical effects, on the other hand are something else.
Nevertheless, there is a massive concentration of cosmic power in the sign Capricorn at this eclipse, so we can expect some powerful machinations in the political world. It really sets the cat among the pigeons, and in fact, when we look at the US Chart, the eclipse exactly opposes the US natal Sun in Cancer, while eclipse Pluto exactly opposes US natal Jupiter. Eclipse Saturn is conjunct US Saturn, so the US is having a Saturn Return, a very stressful stage where sorrow and dwelling on the past tend to prevail. The US government will be forced to recognize and admit its limitations, and concepts—or the implementation—of social or religious reform may become fanatical. Americans travelling abroad will be profoundly affected by the experience, and, perhaps will have just as profound an influence on others—but the influence may not be a healthy one, so great care must be taken. The most positive approach is to remain aware of the potential consequences. Move with wisdom and caution, even if it means not moving at all. Misdeeds or mistakes made now may come back to haunt you.
There are a number of other powerful aspects to the US chart, including pressure on US Moon and Venus, so the financial issues are not going away soon, but on the day transiting Venus is trine transiting Jupiter, Uranus and Chiron, which suggests that concealed or secret financial matters will come into the public eye in a surprising or unexpected way, hopefully bringing long term benefit and healing. Since eclipse Venus is also trine the nation's Part of Fortune, it should be beneficial, so long as complacency does not set in, or extravagance in the holiday season!
Venus on the day is in a truly fortunate position, bringing remarkable good fortune, creative expression and love, particularly for those born in the last few degrees of Scorpio, Pisces or Cancer. However, we should not forget the overall gravity of the situation, especially as transiting Mercury exactly opposes US Mars, suggesting that news about the war could be misleading.
Information and ideas in fact may lead to incorrect actions over this phase. Either the information itself is erroneous, or it is liable to be misinterpreted. Even if you've correctly followed instructions, things may still go awry. Rash actions, or failing to ascertain important details will have undesirable consequences. Not a good time to buy or sell a car, electrical or mechanical equipment, nor is it wise to take a trip, as travel is fraught with physical danger, equipment breakdown and delays or cancellations.
Warning to Turkey
It is also significant that the eclipse occurs in close conjunction with the ascendant of the Republic of Turkey in Asia Minor. This beautiful, historic country lies on the Anatolian peninsula, washed by the Mediterranean Sea. Why is this significant? Because in August 1999, a mighty eclipse marked a series of massive earthquakes, including one that killed over 200,000 people at Izmit in north-western Turkey on the North Anatolian Fault, and many others elsewhere, as the sensitive points were awakened. This January eclipse is definitely not as powerful as the 1999 model, and the associated Grand Cross is in Cardinal Signs, not Fixed Signs as it was in 1999. There are also a number of supportive aspects, which is heartening. Nevertheless, the warning is clear, because not only is transiting Saturn square the nation's ascendant (and thus the eclipse), it is also conjunct Turkey's natal Saturn, so Turkey, like the US, is undergoing a Saturn Return! Moreover, the eclipse Jupiter/Uranus conjunction is right on Turkey's South Node (which is conjunct Turkey's Moon). There are other problematical aspects to Turkey's chart, including eclipse Ceres on Turkey's Mars, but that's enough to set off the alarm. This is spooky stuff. If I were in Turkey, I'd be inclined to take a holiday away from home...
Solar eclipses don't often pass over populated areas. That's a good thing! However, when they do, they appear to have significant disruptive effects on the people and nations concerned (e.g., economic or political crises, civil unrest). This one although partial, affects quite a large population in Europe, Africa and Asia, for it will be seen from such diverse locations as London and Moscow, Istanbul, Cairo and New Delhi. Solar Eclipses also seem either to trigger or amplify natural events in the regions they affect (e.g., severe weather, earthquakes). Let's hope the cosmic wave does not swamp Turkey and surrounding areas again. 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 in Gemini on June 1, 2011, but the next total Solar Eclipse is not until Nov 13, 2012.
How do Eclipses Happen?
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.
New Moon Solar Eclipse
Full Moon Lunar Eclipse
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.
When similarly aligned at a New Moon, the body of the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, producing a Solar Eclipse by hiding the face of the Sun. Remember, you should never view eclipses of the Sun directly with the naked eye, because the potential for eye damage is high.
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.
Astrology shows that the stars and planets are a map to our personalities and a guide to our place in the world. It also explains how the world is regular and predictable (up to a point!). An astrological forecast will place these trends into a context, with regard to our own personal destinies.
Enlightened Astrology does not teach a fatalistic view of the world. Within the environment indicated by the stars, we have considerable freedom to move and make decisions, according to our character and circumstances. See Nexus of Probability.