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Eclipses hold a certain mystery - especially in past times. In simple terms, an eclipse describes the positional relationship between the Sun, Moon and Earth. The diagram below shows the phases of the Moon as it travels around the Earth. There are two main types of eclipse, and they are more common than you think!

The Phases of the Moon - ©Astral Aspects
Image copyright ©Astral Aspects

Lunar Eclipse

A Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Moon is on the far side of the Earth, away from the Sun, and so the Earth casts a shadow over the Moon. The only light that reaches the Moon's surface has been scattered by the Earth's atmosphere. The effect is to turn the Moon red. This is the time of the Full Moon. Astrologically, the Sun and Moon are in opposition.

Lunar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

A Solar Eclipse (the most well known of the two) occurs when the Moon moves between the Sun and the Earth in perfect alignment, obscuring the Sun from our view. This is the time of the New Moon. Astrologically, the Sun and Moon are in conjunction.

Solar Eclipse

All Solar Eclipses involve the Moon passing between the Earth and the Sun, and casting a shadow on the Earth. However, the type of eclipse which can be seen from a given location depends on whether the Moon passes directly, or only partly, between the Earth and Sun; but also on where on Earth you stand to observe it, and on a number of other factors. There are several types of Solar Eclipse:

* Total Solar Eclipse - as the name suggests, means that the Sun is totally obscured by the Moon. These are more rare than the other types of Solar Eclipse.
* Partial Solar Eclipse - where the Moon only partially covers the Sun, appearing to take a 'bite' out of the Sun.
* Annular Solar Eclipse - when the Moon covers the centre of the Sun, but not its edges, leaving a ring (or annulus) of the Sun visible around its edges.
* Hybrid, or Annular/Total, Eclipse - an eclipse which is seen as annular by some parts of the Earth, and total by others (and also as a partial eclipse over a much larger area).

On average there are four eclipses during a year. Two of these are Solar, coinciding with the New Moon, and two are Lunar, when the Earth is directly between the Sun and the Moon and its shadow obscures the Moon. The eclipses work together - two weeks pass between a Solar and a Lunar eclipse and they occur about six months apart.

Eclipses can affect world events. For example, major events happened during eclipses in the lifetime of Diana, Princess of Wales - her marriage, the birth of Prince William, her divorce, and also her death.

31 January 2018 - Total Lunar Eclipse (Full Moon in Leo)
13 July 2018 - Partial Solar Eclipse (New Moon in Cancer)
27 July 2018 - Total Lunar Eclipse (Full Moon in Aquarius)
11 August 2018 - Partial Solar Eclipse (New Moon in Leo)

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