Three Common Misunderstandings About Eclipses


Eclipse viewingThere are three common misunderstandings which propagate like wild fire during eclipse seasons, so I just wanted to clarify a few things that can be a source of confusion:

1)  I often see it said that a specific eclipse is made all the more powerful because it occurs at the same time as a new or full moon. The fact is EVERY eclipse occurs at either a full or new moon. Without the Moon being at one of these two points on its cycle we would not have an eclipse because the Sun, Moon and Earth would not be aligned in the right way to create an eclipse. A solar eclipse always occurs on a new moon, when the Sun is eclipsed by the Moon, and a lunar eclipse always occurs on a full moon, when the Moon is eclipsed by the Earth.

2) Sometimes people refer to a ‘new moon eclipse’. However, an eclipse that happens at the new moon is, in fact, a solar eclipse, i.e. an eclipse of the Sun by the Moon. The terminology of a ‘new moon eclipse’ can be a bit misleading because it sounds like the Moon is eclipsed, which it isn’t. So if you see this expression used, bear in mind that the eclipse is of the Sun and not the Moon.

3) Sometimes I see comments about eclipses occurring at a similar time to those of the previous year, with the implication that this makes them more significant. Again, this arises from a misunderstanding about eclipse cycles generally. Eclipse seasons occur just under every six months, so their dates do roughly reflect those of the previous year. They also move backwards through the zodiac and therefore our calendar, so the actual dates of eclipses get a bit earlier each year. For example, in 2015 there was a solar eclipse on 20th March and a lunar eclipse on 4th April. In 2016 the solar eclipse was on 9th March and the lunar eclipse on 23rd March, and in 2017 they are both in February.

I hope that helps clarify things!

Click here for more information about eclipses and their seasons

Sarah Varcas

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