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The eclipse of the Sun has traditionally been viewed with dread over the ages, as the great giver of life seems inexplicably to disappear from the sky. Birds prepare for bed; the sky darkens in the middle of the day. It seems as though something dreadful is about to happen. Over the years, experience has shown us that old things come to an end (or are overthrown!) under a solar eclipse and a new beginning can be made. The effect on the world of eclipses has been seen to be generally felt for some six months, until the next eclipse then restructures the cosmic energies.
Astrologically, solar eclipses signify the fall of the mighty (or at least, they're in big trouble!). Depending where in the zodiac the eclipse occurs, stress is always placed on the matters governed by that sign, or sector of the zodiac. A powerful Solar Eclipse can create massive havoc, in accordance with other aspects in the heavens at the time, as can be clearly seen by the trail of earthquakes and other disasters associated with the Solar Eclipse and Grand Cross of August 1999.
At a more personal level, the solar eclipse can have a big effect on our personal lives when it occurs in conjunction with one of our natal planets, especially our natal Sun, Moon, or Ruling Planet. Other important chart factors, such as Moon's Nodes, Ascendant, Mid-heaven, or Part of Fortune can also have a very significant effect when impacted by a solar eclipse. Where the eclipse falls in the chart is significant, as the energies expressed by its house placement will show the areas of life that are affected by the new beginning that is implied.
The first solar eclipse of 2009, marking Chinese New Year, is an annular eclipse of the Sun, at the New Moon in Aquarius on January 26 (Australia Day!), while Mercury is retrograde. This eclipse will be visible from a wide track that traverses the Indian Ocean and western Indonesia. A partial eclipse will be seen within the much larger path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes the southern third of Africa, Madagascar, Australia except Tasmania, southeast India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Let's hope no earthquakes, or tsunamis are awakened!
Greatest eclipse takes place at 07:58:39 UT. The central track continues northeast where it finally encounters land in the Cocos Islands and onward to southern Sumatra and western Java in Indonesia. In its final minutes, the shadow cuts across central Borneo and clips the northwestern edge of Celebes before ending just short of Mindanao, Philippines at 09:52 UT. During a 3 hour 46 minute cruise over our planet, the Moon's shadow travels approximately 14,500 kilometres and covers 0.9% of Earth's surface area. For more detailed info from Fred Espenak on the path of the eclipse, please click here. Or you can view the map here.
For more on the science of eclipses, see Fred Espenak's NASA Eclipse Home Page.
This eclipse occurs at 6°30' of Aquarius, the sign of the Water-Bearer, conjunct mighty Jupiter, the lord of the ancient gods. This is a fortunate conjunction, and also marks the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox. What a great night for a celebration!
Externally, it is conjunct his Washington mid-heaven (the place of supreme public achievement in career), close to his progressed Moon, the finger of destiny. Internally, in another clear verification of astrological signals, progressed Moon is right on his natal Ascendant, too, greatly improving his personal magnetism and confidence, after a long period of soul-searching and looking inward. It accentuates his personal interests, awakening a strong desire for the development of his hopes and wishes. It makes it easier to bring changes and to win the support of others, but when lunar aspects and transits are unfavourable – such as in July and August 2009, which is a most critical period, signifying the breaking of ties and the forming of strange even peculiar attachments, stimulating some remarkable undertakings or engagements, when others are likely to misunderstand his motives – obstructions will be encountered in the form of sudden delays, awkward conditions and annoying incidents. Opposition and interference may come from those who, under normal circumstances, would support him. Moreover, his personal health will require more attention, for this position generally tends to break up existing conditions and bring changes. His personal effort will pull him through, hopefully to the benefit of the world, since this influence stimulates resourcefulness and ingenuity.
Solar eclipses don't often pass over populated areas, but when they do, they appear to have significant disruptive effects on the people and nations concerned (e.g., economic or political crises, civil unrest). My colleague, Ian Thurnwald, points out that Solar Eclipses also seem either to trigger or amplify natural events in the regions they affect (e.g., severe weather, earthquakes). Whether this effect is an astrological one or not, is a moot point, though recent scientific work on the effects of the Moon on earthquakes and other terrestrial phenomena is interesting. No doubt they would hasten to deny any astrological effect! See my article on Moon Wobbles. The eclipse being in Aquarius means that people with Fixed signs (Aquarius; Leo; Scorpio; Taurus) featured in their birthcharts are more likely to be affected. The next eclipse of the Sun will be on July 22, 2009.
The eclipse of the Moon has traditionally been viewed as a bad omen, for it can awaken irrational responses. Since the Moon governs domestic matters, the public and the emotional personality, rather than leadership, it tends to have a more personal effect than the solar eclipse, which plays a more outward, even political, role.
The first lunar eclipse of 2009 is one of four during the year. The first three eclipses are penumbral, where the darkest part of the shadow does not cover the whole of the Moon's disc, while the last (on Dec. 31) is partial. The Feb 09 event is the deepest penumbral eclipse of the year and will be easily visible to the naked eye as a dusky shading in the northern half of the Moon. The times of the major phases are listed below.
Of course, the beginning and end of a penumbral eclipse are not visible to the eye. In fact, no shading can be detected until about 2/3 of the Moon's disk is immersed in the penumbra. This would put the period of eclipse visibility from approximately 14:00 to 15:20 UT. Keep in mind that this is only an estimate. Atmospheric conditions are important factors to consider.
For NASA's graphic illustration of the Moon's path through Earth's shadows, as well as Fred Espenak's map illustrating worldwide visibility, click here.
The Full Moon Lunar Eclipse on February 9, 2009 occurs at 21°00' Leo (the degree of "Own Worst Enemy!"), in conjunction with the Fixed Star Algenubi, a star of cruelty, yet also artistic appreciation combined with great spiritual gifts, while the Sun is on the stars Castra ("The Fortress"), often considered problematic, though it has a good side, and Nashira, which favours good governance, writing, religion and the overcoming of evil. Pretty good, then, so long as you tread carefully and do not let ego create big problems making you your own worst enemy! Political leaders, especially in the Middle East, take note.
The Moon being eclipsed in Leo, people at this time will want to turn their feelings into physical experiences. Desires are not seen from the standpoint of practicality, emotional commitment, or as lessons to be learned – before anything else, there has to be action, some form of instant physical gratification.
The Sun is conjunct Neptune in this figure, so spiritual matters, fantasies and ideals are the main factors in the environment. People with a civic consciousness will visit those who are sick or confined, or volunteer assistance to charitable causes. Be careful in whatever you do however. This eclipse will incline us to lose sight of reality, and incline others, whether purposefully or mistakenly, to conceal the truth. The public will be easily misled. Flood-water is indicated in appropriate areas, and water or gas damage can also be an issue.
It is somewhat more hopeful that Jupiter, Lord of Fortune, is conjunct the Moon's North Node during the eclipse. The North Node, or Dragon's Head, stands for the opening up of destiny, though from a karmic standpoint, rather than a deliberate, decision-making one. Mars, the Mighty Warrior, is also conjunct Jupiter and the North Node, so passions will be high. Thoughtless action will not be likely to have a good outcome, as the expansive and magnifying power of Jupiter at this time is likely to boost the non-conscious urges of passion and anger. Stay out of war zones! Venus however is on the mid-heaven (a strengthening point), though weakened by being in Aries, a Mars-ruled sign. Venus casts a good aspect to Jupiter and Mars, so action is very likely as a knee-jerk reaction to public events in the political and financial spheres. The overwhelming urge will be to throw money at the problem, and hang the long-term consequences. Still, for the romantically inclined, you'll feel like throwing caution to the winds and will find the opportunity to express your feelings in a physical way.
People with Fixed Signs prominent in their charts will have a hard time separating their egos from their emotions, failing to recognise that something (or someone) they want may simply represent ego involvement, instead of emotional commitment. The Fixed signs are Aquarius; Taurus; Leo; and Scorpio. What we are called upon (or driven) to do may often interfere with what gives us emotional satisfaction, or we chase after our desires, while we waste or fail to develop our talents and skills. A tug-of-war exists between desires and emotional needs and practical ambitions. Appreciate whatever positive circumstances you encounter, and don’t be misguided enough to believe you can easily overcome any negative ones.
In ancient times, priests and astrologers discovered how to predict eclipses, having realised their significance. Using observation and mathematics, they prepared reliable tables utilising their knowledge of the movement of the Moon's Nodes that have hardly been surpassed for accuracy until the recent advent of the computer. The Moon's Nodes mark the points where the path of the Moon's orbit around the Earth crosses the path of the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun and planets around the Earth) as viewed from the surface of the Earth. An eclipse takes place when either a New Moon (producing a Solar Eclipse) or a Full Moon (producing a Lunar Eclipse) occurs close to the either of the Nodes.
The Moon's light is reflected from the Sun, as the Moon does not shine of her own accord. Each month the Moon in her orbit travels completely around the Earth and the New and Full Moons happen as the Sun aligns with the Moon, either in conjunction or opposition. These powerful periods are called lunations. Among other effects on the world, they generate the tides.
When lunations are also eclipses, their effect is even more powerful — although solar eclipses are generally more strongly felt than lunar eclipses. Eclipses usually occur in pairs, with either a lunar eclipse (Full Moon) heralding a solar eclipse (New Moon) about two weeks later, or vice versa. The energy of any lunation is always most strongly felt a day or so before the Moon (emotions; habit patterns; the public) reaches the exact alignment with the Sun (character; rationality; rulers).
At a Full Moon, when the Earth, Sun and Moon are so closely aligned that the Earth is located precisely between the Sun and the Moon, the shadow of the Earth covers the face of the Moon generating a Lunar Eclipse. The light of the Moon is darkened temporarily. It is safe to observe the Lunar Eclipse, or to take photographs, as there is no likelihood of eye damage, unlike the dangers during a Solar Eclipse.
For more on the science of eclipses, click here. Remember when looking at this astronomical material that they are using the sidereal zodiac, whilst we are using the tropical zodiac, so sign placements may seem out of whack with those mentioned here. This is due to the cosmic phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, which makes the tropical zodiac of the seasons, as used on this site, seem out of sync with the constellations. This factor however has no effect on the predictive power of astrology.
Although the actual size of the Moon is much smaller than the size of the Sun, one of the most remarkable facts about our universe is that, when viewed from the Earth during a total eclipse, the Moon's disc exactly covers the disc of the Sun. The odds against such a striking coincidence happening in the one known area of the Universe where intelligent beings can experience it are, in a word, astronomical! This is one more in a long list of phenomena that inclines this writer to believe that our world is much more like a mind than a thing. See Is Astrology Scientific, for more on this approach.