Fact-check: Eclipses

They’re one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights and in ancient times, the temporary darkening of the Sun, just like today, fascinated the viewing audience.

The Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians could not predict the time and place of an eclipse but, as astute observers of celestial phenomena, they did develop stories and myths to explain their mystery.

Fear and superstition colored these myths and more recently Aztec and Mayan astrologers observed a relation between eclipses and disasters. But in the Age of Aquarius the fear, superstition and supposition have to be eradicated by scientific astrological research that seeks to discover the facts about eclipses.

An eclipse involves the Sun-Moon and Earth. 

It’s all a matter of alignment which astronomers explain as a fortuitous coincidence. The Moon just happens to be about 400 times smaller than the Sun and the Sun just happens to be about 400 times further from the Earth than the Moon. 

So the apparent disk size of the Moon is almost exactly the same as the apparent disk size of the Sun and the Moon’s diameter and distance from Earth make its relative size just big enough to cover the Sun. So every now and then as the Earth orbits the Sun and the Moon orbits the Earth the Moon will move between the Earth and Sun and eclipse the Sun.  

Astronomers will also tell you that in a billion years or so, the Moon will have drifted so far from the Earth that solar eclipses will no longer occur but that prediction awaits scientific validation.  

Three types of solar eclipses

There are 3 kinds of solar eclipses: total, partial and annular.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the New Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and, as viewed from the Earth, the entire disk of the Sun is covered by the Moon. The path of totality is a narrow belt about 100 miles (160km) wide and 10,000miles (16,000 km) long. So, regions outside this path experience a partial eclipse of the Sun.

A partial solar eclipse, as viewed from the Earth, occurs when the Moon only partially covers the Sun’s disk.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon appears smaller than the Sun as it passes across the solar disk and a bright ring, or annulus, of sunlight remains visible during the eclipse. Each year there are between 2 and 5 solar eclipses.

There is also a rare hybrid that is a combination of an annular and a total eclipse. It’s also known as an annular-total eclipse because it changes from an annular to a total solar eclipse, and/or vice versa, along its path.

The symbolism of eclipses

Your real-life, and the life of every human soul, involves conflict with destructive forces and these harsh experiences tend to develop cruel and selfish instincts that shut out the light of goodness.

And symbolically an eclipse represents the soul or spirit being devoured and destroyed by the powers of darkness associated with the struggle with harsh environmental conditions.

An eclipse symbolizes the Sun’s spiritual light being concealed or obscured by material interests or destructive environmental forces.


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