A total eclipse happens when the moon appears large enough in the sky that its disc can nearly completely obscure the sun's disc, leaving only a red ring around the dark shadow of the moon. This happens when either the moon is closest to the Earth (def:perigee) in its orbit or the Earth is furthest from the Sun in its orbit (this happens in month:July) or any variation on the orbits that cause the moon to appear as large as, or larger than the sun. If the moon is further away in its orbit(def:apogee), or the Earth is closer to the Sun in its orbit (it is closest in month:January), then the disc of the moon will appear smaller than the disc of the Sun and the moon will not fully obscure the sun. This is called an annular eclipse.
In truth, the Sun is roughly 400x larger than the moon, but it is also 400x further away so the two bodies appear approximately the same size in the sky. However, the moon's orbit around the Earth is elliptical, so it is sometimes closer to the Earth than others and thus, appears larger and smaller respectively. Likewise, the Earth's orbit around the Sun is elliptical so that at some points in its orbit, the Sun appears larger than others.
A partial eclipse occurs when the moon blocks only a portion of the sun. In this case, it often goes unnoticed as it causes little to no darkening of the sun at all and you'd hurt your eyes staring hard enough at the sun to notice the shadow. This can happen in parts of the world where we are looking at a full or annual eclipse off to the side or when the shadow of the moon passes above the polar regions of the Earth.
Total lunar eclipses occur somewhere on Earth approximately every 18 months. However, they only occur in any particular place about every 360 to 410 years.
Upcoming Solar Eclipses
February 26, 2017 (Annular)
August 21, 2017 (Total)
February 15, 2018 (Partial)
August 11, 2018 (Partial)
July 13, 2018 (Partial)
January 6, 2019 (Partial)
July 2, 2019 (Total)
December 26, 2019 (Annular)
June 21, 2020 (Annular)
December 14, 2020 (Total)
June 10, 2021 (Annular)
December 4, 2021 (Total)
Eclipses in Magic
There are a few schools of thought with regard to the energy of the solar eclipse.
Thought 1 - Eclipses always take place during the New Moon when the Sun and the Moon are in the same sign. Together in the sky, their energies are combined and supercharged for the energy of that sign.
Thought 2 - An eclipse gives us the energy of an entire cycle of seasons, or cycle of a day from twilight, darkness, dawn to light, from the waning light of autumn to the darkness of winter, to the growing light of spring and brightness of summer. This is powerful energy to harness to bring about big change quickly.
Thought 3- The moon engulfs the sun, turning the sky bloody, but the sun emerges again in a symbol of rebirth. This makes an equinox a great time practice rites designed to wash away the old to make way for the new, to break down barriers to come out into the light.
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