Learning about Lunar and Solar Eclipses

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Last Updated On
October 01 2016

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Eclipses Explained

When is the next eclipse? MoonTracks Astrology Calendars has the dates & times for your timezone! Plus, Lunar Living has more information about eclipses on the next page. For More Lunar Living Eclipse Information along with a countdown and extended dates.

Eclipse Lore Part 1

In the past, eclipse events caused extreme fear in people. In many civilizations, an "observable" Solar Eclipse ['SE'] was considered to be a bad omen. The blackening of the Sun was especially feared. This fear was most likely created because an actual total eclipse will seldom be viewed more than once in a lifetime in any one specific locale. Lunar Eclipses ['LE'] can be seen more often. However, when total 'LEs' were observed, some cultures feared them because of the reddish color which sometimes was described as a "Blood Moon" or an "Evil Moon." We now know that Eclipses (Solar and Lunar combined) actually occur 4 - 7 times each year, even though we may not always see them. {*The letters LE and SE will occasionally be used to save time and space.*}

It's in the Way!

An ecliptic event occurs when one object gets in front of another, obstructing our view of the farther object. So if your spouse gets in front of the television, it could be said that he/she is eclipsing the television (ha ha). We usually associate the term with one planet obscuring our view of an outer planet in the sky. In the case of a Lunar Eclipse, it is the Earth (us) blocking the light of the Sun's reflection upon the Moon during a Full Moon event. Eclipses can be total or partial, depending on how the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned. The shadow that is created has two parts: the umbra, or total shadow; and the penumbra, or partial shadow. On the next page of this article are the dates and types.

The Basics:

If you don't learn anything else from this piece, please remember this: a Lunar Eclipse cannot occur without a Solar Eclipse occurring within two weeks of each other. The eclipses - Lunar and Solar - ALWAYS happen as a pair. More people are familiar with seeing a 'LE' because the night sky makes the viewing of the lunar event possible from just about anywhere on the world unless the event occurs during the daytime in your area. 'SEs' are harder to observe; require special equipment and/or eye protection to watch it and being in the "right place at the right time." A 'SE' is the Moon blocking the Sun's rays onto the Earth and a 'LE' is the Earth blocking the Sun's rays to the Moon from reflecting back to the Earth.

Ecliptic Patterns:

Eclipses, Solar and Lunar, occur through a series of consecutive Ecliptic events that follow a pattern. Perhaps the better term would be sequence. The series can be tracked over time from beginning to end. Yes, each series, or sequence, has a birth time and a death time. And like many living organisms, even the series have families that link them generationally. The fact of the matter is, that their cycles are extensive, lasting over one thousand years. Each cycle, known as a Saros Series, occurs for approximately 1300 years. Since the life of each Saros is trackable through time, it is logical to expect that each subsequent event, as a result of the initial Saros birth, is an expansion upon the original Ecliptic arrival. The unique energies of the original event carry on for the life of each particular Saros Series. Essentially, the Saros is the "name" given to a new sequence.

In Astronomy, each of the current Saros Series have been individually numbered and is tracked. In Astrology, we break from this tradition. Instead of saros, the eclipses are linked together as a family (cluster) of events that occur as a group approximately 18 years apart. They are called node families which always consist of four or more 'family' members. Each member will present an Eclipse during that family's season, depending on whether it originated as a 'SE' or a 'LE'. That family will not put on another show for 18+ years. If one of the node family member's is dying out, another will begin by being initiated into the family. We see this transition occurring while there are more than four family members (two solar and two lunar) during any one eclipse season. For concise and technical explanations from the astronomical perspective, visit the NASA Eclipse site. Astrology uses a smaller numbering system of 1 to 19 with an S or N to indicate which hemisphere the eclipse originated in. You can see the comparisons and use of the two numbering systems in the table on the bottom of the next page. (Continued on next page.)

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