Every month there is a new and full moon in the sky, but how often do they get to be eclipses? Right now!

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Every six months to be exact! Today was the first lunar eclipse of 2021 and, in two weeks, on June 10, there will be an accompanying solar eclipse. That will then be it until the end of 2021.

So what exactly is the difference between a solar and a lunar eclipse?

Both types of eclipses – solar and lunar – involve the Sun and the Moon. A solar eclipse can only happen at the time of the new moon (when the Sun and Moon appear to be together in the sky). A lunar eclipse happens at the time of the full moon when the Sun and Moon are in opposite parts of the sky. Generally solar and lunar eclipses occur two weeks apart, but they occur in any order.

How do we know when an eclipse is about to happen?

Twice a year the Sun comes close to the nodal axis (the point where the Moon crosses the ecliptic – the plane between the Sun and the Earth). When it is in this part of the sky, which it is for roughly 36 days every six months – it is known as eclipse season. Any new or full moon falling during that time will be an eclipse. (reference: eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov)

The other interesting thing is that eclipses belong to ‘families’ known as Saros cycles, which repeat every 18 years. Again, for further information, NASA is a great website.

The solar eclipse coming up on June 10, 2021 belongs to Saros Series 5 North – it originated at the North Pole likely around October 1624 – yes that long ago! – and will makes its way to the South Pole before finally finishing its cycle around 2868.

So why on earth does this matter to me?

On a personal level:

A Saros Series 5 North eclipse last occurred 18 years ago on May 31 2003 at 9 degrees GEMINI in the sky and it will return on June 10 2021 at 20 degrees GEMINI. If you have any planets in your natal chart in GEMINI and around these degrees, it’s worth a look at what was happening 18 years ago as there might be some interesting developments that arise now – especially as the nature of this eclipse cycle is a creative one and capable of bringing insights. And after the year we’ve had, that might bring a welcome breath of fresh air (reference: Predictive Astrology – The eagle and the lark – by Bernadette Brady)
In general, eclipse season just seems to add a general level intensity to the things that are going on and might affect us in our daily lives. For example, check out the news report on CBC last night (https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/lunar-eclipse-may-1.6034691) referring to ‘a super flower blood moon!’

On a global level:

If you’d like to dive into this a little further, the best work I have seen on Saros cycles has been done by Bernadette Brady http://www.bernadettebrady.com/Pdfs/SarosCycles.pdf

Happy eclipse season!