In the previous articles about the current transits and recent Lunar Eclipse of July 27, 2018, I discussed eclipse seasons and Saros Cycles in the course of my interpretation of current astrological events. Last year before the Great American Eclipse, I wrote an article discussing the meaning of eclipses on a metaphysical level. Now, as we are coming to the end of a long eclipse season, it seems a good time to talk about the physical mechanics of eclipses, and to discuss eclipse seasons and Saros Cycles in greater detail.
The Astronomy of Eclipses
While of course, the Earth orbits around the Sun, eclipses are events seen on Earth, and so for this purpose, we will look at the astronomy as it is perceived on Earth. From this perspective, the Sun, Moon, and other planets appear to revolve around the Earth. The Sun’s path around the earth is known as the ecliptic. The constellations that are found along the ecliptic are known as the zodiac. In Vedic astrology, the coordinates around the ecliptic are marked by the actual constellations; in most branches of Western astrology, the coordinates along the ecliptic are marked using the Sun’s position at the Spring Equinox as 0° Aries and dividing the ecliptic into 12 equal portions with a new sign starting every 30°. The position of the Sun or any planet along this ecliptic is its longitude.
In addition to longitude planets also have latitude. At 0° Aries and 0° Libra, the latitude of the Sun is 0° and is seen as centered on the equator of the Earth. The Sun’s path goes from 23.5° North at 0° Cancer, when it is seen as centered on the Tropic of Cancer, to 23.5° South at 0° Capricorn, when it is seen as centered on the Tropic of Capricorn. The celestial latitude of the Sun is by definition always 0°, and the celestial latitude of the other planets is measured from their position north or south of the ecliptic.
The path of the Moon can vary from the path of the Sun by up to about 5° North or South of the ecliptic. The path of the Moon crosses the path of the Sun in two places, and these places are known as the North Node, or the ascending node, and the South Node, or the descending node. It just so happens that from the Earth the Moon appears to be same relative size as the Sun, and because of this whenever there is a New Moon at or around one of the Nodes, the Moon will block the light of the Sun, and there will be a Solar Eclipse. Whenever there is a Full Moon at or around one of the Nodes, the Earth will block the light of the Sun to the Moon, and there will be a Lunar Eclipse.
Because eclipses form around the Moon’s Nodes, whenever the Sun is within 18° of either the North or South Node, an eclipse can occur. As the Sun moves approximately 1° a day, and the Nodes move retrograde, or backwards, at a rate of about 1.5° per month, this means that roughly every six months, there will be a 36 day period in which eclipses can occur. The current eclipse season began on July 10, 2018, and it will continue until August 15, 2018. While popular astrology tends to look on periods when Mercury is retrograde with dread, I find that eclipse seasons tend to be far more chaotic. During this current eclipse season, however, there is a Mercury retrograde as well. Mercury started going retrograde on July 26, 2018 and will go direct on August 18, 2018.
Most eclipse seasons have two eclipses, a Solar Eclipse at the New Moon and a Lunar Eclipse at the Full Moon. The current eclipse season has three eclipses. The first eclipse was a Solar Eclipse on July 12, 2018.
The Sun and the Moon were about 16° behind the North Node. Being at the edge of the window in which eclipses can form, this was a small partial eclipse.
The second eclipse was a Lunar Eclipse on June 27, 2018.
The Sun and the Moon are opposite each other, with the Sun and the Moon only about 1° away from the Nodal Axis. This was a big, dramatic, total Eclipse. The closer the Sun and Moon are to the nodes, the bigger and more dramatic the Eclipse will be.
The last eclipse of the season will occur on August 11, 2018.
In this chart, the Sun and the Moon are together again about 13° ahead of the North Node. Like the first Solar Eclipse in the season, this will be a small partial eclipse.
Below is a map showing where the Partial Eclipse of 8-11-2018 will be visible.
Approximately 18 years ago, on July 30, 2000, there was a smaller partial Solar Eclipse that was visible as shown below:
As you can see, the path of this eclipse was slightly to the North, with the Earth turned about 1/3 of its rotation, but the pattern is essential the same. Approximately 18 years before that, on July 20, 1982, there was another Solar Eclipse, with a visibility pattern as follows:
Again the path of this Eclipse was slightly to the North, with the Earth turned about 1/3 of its rotation. This pattern can be traced back to very small Eclipse at the North Pole on June 17, 1928, which can be seen below.
From the starting point at the North Pole, there will be a series of Eclipses with a similar visibility pattern, slightly South, with the Earth at 1/3 of its rotation approximately 18 years and 10 days apart which will continue until there will be a final eclipse at the South Pole on July 24, 3190.
Ancient Babylonians have been aware of this pattern since at least the 4th Century B.C.E.. This pattern was given the name of Saros Series in the 10th Century A.D., and the word saros in Greek means to repeat. Saros Series have been given numbers, and the number of this Saros Series is 155. Solar Eclipse Saros Series at the North Node always begin at the North Pole and end at the South Pole, and Saros Series at the South Node always begin at the South Pole and end at the North Pole.
Solar Saros Series are always paired with Lunar Saros Series that repeat at the same intervals. The Lunar Eclipse of July 27, 2018 is from Lunar Saros Series 129. Every Eclipse from Solar Series 155 was preceded by an Eclipse from Lunar Series 129 by approximately 2 weeks.
Lunar Series 129 is a lot older than Solar Series 155. It was born on June 10, 1351. Throughout its lifetime, it has been preceded by a Solar Eclipse from Solar Series 117 by approximately 2 weeks. Solar Series 117 began on June 24, 792 at the North Pole.
In the year in which Lunar Series 129 was born, Solar Series 117 was in its prime, and it could be seen in North America.
The Solar Eclipse that happened last month could be seen in Southern tip of Australia and Northern tip of Antarctica as seen below:
Solar Series 117 will end with a very tiny Eclipse at the South Pole on August 3, 2054, at which time, Lunar Series 129 and Solar Series 155 will continue on without it.
Like Solar Series 155, in its youth, Solar Series 117 was preceded by an elder Lunar Series and an elder Solar Series. The elder Lunar Series was 91, which was born on June 7, 179, and the elder Solar Series was 79, which was born on May 21, 434 B.C.E. These Series also had elders, and one can trace the genealogy of any given Saros Series as far back as to the 3rd Millennium B.C.E.
Each Saros Series seems to weave threads through history, and as successive eclipses from each series touch down, they appear to generate historical themes. As I discussed in my previous article, the theme of Lunar Series 129 seems to be one of divisive ideologies which have the potential to turn violent. In my research, the theme of the elder Solar Series 117 seems to be one of exploration, colonization, and exploitation of native populations. What will be the theme of Solar Series 155?
At present, it is not possible to determine through historical analysis. The Series is still too young, and events surrounding eclipses from this Series can still be attributed to its elder Saros Series, Solar 117 and Lunar 129.
The first Eclipse from this series occurred in late Gemini. In looking at the disposition pattern for this Eclipse, all of the planets except for Mars feed into a mutual reception between Mercury in Cancer and the Moon in Gemini. Mercury and the Moon are in adjacent signs, so they are not be able to “see” each other. Mars is off on its own in Aries, and allied to the Sun, Moon and Venus in Gemini.
It appears that the themes of divisive ideologies that we saw in Lunar Series 129 will continue through Solar Series 155, but will be muddled with a spirit of protectionism. The divisiveness is likely to be fueled by a warlike Mars that answers to no one but herself.
As worrying as this may be, the only eclipse that we can do anything about is the one that will be happening later this week. Let’s look at the chart:
The Eclipse itself will occur at 18° Leo, and luckily for those with planets in early fixed signs, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius, will not be hitting the same places as Mars and Uranus will. Those with planets in the middle degrees of these signs will be impacted, however.
In the chart of the Lunar Eclipse of 7-27-2018, the disposition pattern showed two teams, one headed by the Sun, and one headed by Saturn. This chart has the same two teams; however, Venus has left both teams and is now by herself in her own sign of Libra. This seems a positive development, giving hope for a spirit of reconciliation to emerge from the recent volatility.
The potential for conflict is still high, however, with the added complication of misunderstanding and miscommunication, as Mercury is retrograde and in tension with Jupiter. Still, this Eclipse does not seem nearly as difficult as the Lunar Eclipse we had two weeks ago.
Recommendations for the Eclipse of August 11, 2018
- As always, if you are in the path of the Eclipse, I recommend avoiding it if at all possible.
- Beware of misunderstandings and miscommunications, especially during the Eclipse and in the immediate aftermath. If you find yourself is such a situation, try to stay calm and not let your ego get in the way. If you can, try to wait a few days to settle the disagreement when everyone is a little calmer.
- Try to remember your positive feelings and love for your friends and family. Your bonds are much more important than any disagreements you may have.
- Eclipse season will be over very soon! After the Eclipse, it will only last another 4 days! A few days after that, on August 18, 2018, Mercury will go direct. Soon, we will all be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
- The next clear lunation will be the Full Moon of August 26, 2018, and the next clear New Moon will be on September 9, 2018.
- Congratulations! Once this is over, we will all have survived the most difficult transit period of this year!