According to NASA, an eclipse takes place when one heavenly body moves into the shadow of another heavenly body. From our planet, there is an eclipse of the moon (lunar eclipse), when Earth moves between the sun and the moon, blocking sunlight, and an eclipse of the sun (solar eclipse), when the moon moves between the sun and Earth — and we have both a new moon solar eclipse (October 14) and full moon lunar eclipse (October 28) coming up this month.
Scientifically, NASA uses eclipses to study the sun’s corona, the moon’s surface and solar weather. Lasting up to eight minutes, eclipses are captivating, visual events, and many people trek the globe for the perfect eclipse sighting in places known for sky clarity. More powerful than the full moon, eclipses have been occurring in our celestial sphere even before civilization existed.
The first mention of an eclipse was found in Zhou-Shu, a Chinese book of the Zhou Dynasty on January 29 1137 BC (the book was discovered in 280 AD). In ancient cultures, eclipses were associated as a disruption in the order of the heavens and generally had negative connotations. Ancient Egyptians observed eclipse cycles some 4,500 years ago, and Greek astrologers were fascinated with the eclipse relationship among the moon, earth and sun.
Eclipses were an exciting activity of study in the Middle Ages in Western Europe, and they became important during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, both religiously and scientifically. At the time, astronomy in general was having a breakthrough thanks to the invention of the telescope in 1609, and new planets like Uranus (discovered in March 1781) and Neptune (September 1846) were recognized.
In the latter half of the 20th century, eclipses became major subjects in paintings and poetry, often left for interpretation. A marvel to the naked eye, an eclipse (like the full moon) had a type of mystery surrounding it, and major worldwide events happened on or around an eclipse. Helium was discovered, Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relatively was first observed and Princess Diana separated, gave birth to William and died on eclipse days.
But eclipses take on a more interpretive role from an astrological perspective. In astrology, eclipses served as a tool in determining outcomes and experiencing significant life moments. A solar eclipse falls on a new moon and indicates crucial, new beginnings, while a lunar eclipse, which falls on a full moon, will end or wrap up something particularly important. Eclipses change our perception of time, and speed up life timetables.
Eclipses come in pairs every five and a half months and bring circumstances to the surface. Eclipses are very dramatic and bring life events and moments that we always remember. The exact sign, degree and date of the eclipse repeat every 19 years. For example, an eclipse on February 26, 2017 took place in Pisces. Looking back 19 years, one occurred on February 26, 1998 as well, in the same sign and degree (Pisces, 8 degrees). Eclipses usually center on pivotal life moments that we long remember. An eclipse will only affect you if it falls on a degree of your sun, natal moon or natal planet in your birth horoscope.
Check out the 5 things you should and should not do during an eclipse below.
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