Beginner’s Corner with Sheridan
November 2, 2022
Why isn’t every Full Moon a Lunar Eclipse?
Or for that matter, why isn’t every new Moon a solar eclipse? We have a new Moon and full Moon every month, but eclipse seasons only twice a year. Why is that? It’s because the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun only twice a year and the Moon moves through the shadow of the Earth only twice a year. And, why is that?
Sometimes the Moon is above or below the Sun, from our view, and sometimes the Moon is above or below the shadow of the Earth too. We do not have eclipses in either of these circumstances. Eclipses are all about our perspective and where the Moon is in regard to the Sun.
A solar eclipse can only happen when the Moon is directly in front of the Sun, from our view down here on the Earth. The lunar eclipse can only happen when the Moon goes directly through the shadow of the Earth. These two phenomena only occur when the Sun and Moon are near the north and south nodes, meaning eclipses can only happen when the Sun and Moon are both near the nodes.
What are the nodes anyway?
The nodes are the intersection of the pathways of the Sun and Moon. Both the Sun and Moon have their own unique paths through our sky. When the Moon’s track crosses over the Sun’s track, also known as the ecliptic, that is when the eclipses appear.
Check out this full Moon’s lunar eclipse image below, thanks to Stellarium.org, a free astronomy software program. (I like how they show the full Moon all reddish, at the peak of the eclipse!) The white circle is the path of the Moon. The yellow circle is the path of the Sun, the ecliptic. These circles cross over each other in two spots. Where they intersect represent the nodes of the Moon. See how the Moon’s and Sun’s circles are touching during this lunar eclipse?
Now, look at the astrology chart of the lunar eclipse below. See the two horseshoe or headphone shaped glyphs? These two glyphs represent the nodes. They show, on the chart, where the two paths (of the Sun and Moon) cross over each other, from the astronomy image above. The Sun is near the south node and the Moon is near the north node.
Also, notice how the chart maps exactly the astronomy in the image above. The Sun in the second house and the Moon in the eighth, just like in picture. Of course, this is from my Colorado perspective and yours would match your precise location. But, the cool part is to see that the chart (and all charts) are simply a map of the actual sky at that particular moment.
Eclipses occur when the paths of the Moon and Sun meet – only. The rest of the year, all the new Moons and full Moons, their paths are too far apart for this perfect alignment of Moon and Sun to make an eclipse. Again, this is all about our earthly perspective. All three of us, Sun, Moon and Earth, have to align for an eclipse to occur. See what a special event an eclipse is? You already know that from seeing them, but now you understand the astronomy behind the specialness.
Depending upon where you live, and if you have clear skies, I hope you can get outside and see the beautiful, magnificent Taurus lunar eclipse this Tuesday, November 8. Click this link to look for the times and viewing possibilities where you live. Regardless of whether you can visually see it or not, we’re all experiencing the energies.
Blessings for your eclipse journeys!