The Astronomy of Solar Eclipses
A Solar Eclipse is a special type of New Moon when the Moon is between the Sun and Earth. That is, they are aligned near the ecliptic (the plane of the earth’s orbit around the sun and the apparent annual path of the sun).
The moon’s orbit is inclined by 5 degrees to the ecliptic; the two points where they intersect are called the Moon’s Nodes, identified as the ascending node (North) and the descending node (South). Eclipses occur during two periods each year when the apparent motion of the Sun meets up with the nodes. The closer the Moon is to the center of the line between the Sun and Earth, the more total the eclipse.
During a total solar eclipse, the Moon completely obscures the Sun over a relatively narrow band across the Earth’s surface, its shadow racing generally eastward.
Non-total eclipses include the annular, when the Moon is farther from the Earth and appears smaller, so the Moon does not completely block the Sun but leaves a ring around the rim; and the partial, when the Moon is slightly off center, blocking only a portion of the Sun.
The fourth type of a solar eclipse is the hybrid, also known as an annular/total. A hybrid eclipse shifts between a total and annular eclipse. At certain points on the surface of Earth, it appears as a total eclipse, whereas at other points it appears as annular. Just over 5% of solar eclipses fall in this category, making the hybrid eclipse something of a rarity.
The Astrology of Solar Eclipses
A Solar Eclipse is a New Moon with tremendous impact. The Sun that gives us life and lights our path is joined briefly with the dark and mysterious qualities of the Moon. The Moon blocks the light of the Sun. In this moment of perceived darkness, spirituality and the psyche combine anew, beginning another cycle in the spiral of our personal development.
All eclipses indicate change; solar eclipses signify beginnings and usually manifest as events in the outer world. At solar eclipses we: begin something new, make promises to ourselves, commit, announce, present ourselves, show up, make plans, select events, make decisions, rise to the challenge, make an effort, change, mature, take on greater challenges, travel at a faster pace, feel restless, feel pressured by deadlines and a buildup of emotions, experience a crisis and feel excited.
In astrology, we also note at which of the Moon’s nodes the eclipse occurs. North nodal eclipses have a personal orientation and symbolize personal identity, ego, and the physical body. South nodal eclipses are other-oriented and symbolize a spouse or significant other, relationships and new perspectives based on interaction with others.
The heightened impact of eclipse energy can be felt by everyone as much as 3 months in advance and has subtle reverberations for as long as 3 years afterward. Although the energies are most prominent for a week on either side of the eclipse, the reverberations continue for 36 months.
Eclipse periods are extremely active, often associated with meaningful events and public exposure.
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