The Moon (Luna) was long thought to have broken away from Earth, and it is
now indicated from a study of 382 kilograms of Moon rock fragments from the
Apollo missions that it is the same age as Earth. The fragments show, however,
that the Moon could not have been formed from the same parent cloud as Earth,
because they lack the heavier elements such as iron and nickel that are found
near the centre of Earth. The Moon has similar internal segmenting, and a
surface composition very similar to that of the Earth's mantle, but has become
an evolved planet in its own right. It usefully preserves for posterity the
first billion years of life that all terrestrial planets must have undergone.
Lunar Prospector's measurements of the Moon's gravitational field have
confirmed that the Moon's central iron core is far too small for it to be
Earth's sister. Its presence is now strongly thought to be the result of a
glancing collision, 4.52 to 4.56 billion years ago, between Earth and a
captured proto-asteroid, 50 million years after the start of the Solar System.
Computer models suggest that this colliding proto-planet would have had three
times the mass of Mars to explain the Moon's mass. If so, this impact would
have speeded up Earth's rotation time from around a year to just a day; an
alteration which would made habitation possible on Earth. The particles of
dust and debris resulting from the collision congealed into a single body, the
Moon, within the space of a year. There may also have initially been a second
similar-sized moon, destroyed by later impact, or seduced into deep space by a
passing planetoid's gravitational pull.
Astrologers often refer to the Sun and the Moon as "the lights",
although the Moon emits no light of its own, but reflects the light of the
Sun. It does this at a rate of only 7% of the light received, due to the dull
surface of the Moon and the absorption of the solar thermal energy. Light from
the Moon takes 1.26 seconds to reach Earth. Temperatures reach 117.2°C on the
lunar equator and falls to -162.7°C after nightfall.
With a diameter of 2,159.3 miles, the Moon has more than a quarter the mass of
the Earth. Its ratio of mass compared to Earth is 1:81 and its density is 3:5.
This is outstandingly massive for any moon in relation to its primary and
leads further to the Earth/Moon system being correctly described as a double
planet. The Moon travels an average 13° per day, or 4,680° per annum, East
to West in the Northern Hemisphere, at an orbital velocity of 2,287 mph; so
there is retardation between one moonrise and the next. This is greatest
around March and least around September, but the average difference is 50
minutes per day.
The Moon has a true period of revolution equal to its period of rotation,
27.321661 days. Because it now has a captured rotation, the same face of the
Moon always faces Earth, but 59% of the Moon's surface is visible from Earth
due to the Moon's slight rocking from side to side as its speed changes. The
remaining 41%, popularly known as the "dark side of the Moon",
remained unknown until photographed by Luna 3 (from 0630 hr on 7 October
1959), when it was found to be distinctly different from the familiar near
side, having no large maria. This difference indicates that the lunar rotation
has been synchronous since a fairly early stage in the Earth/Moon
relationship. Sensors placed on the Moon's surface revealed that the Moon is
not inert, as previously thought, but that it generates its own internal
The Moon is the only body in the Solar System which in any sense orbits the
Earth, although its true motion is of a path weaving in and out of Earth's
orbit, lagging behind and racing ahead each month, as its gravitational
control passes between Earth and the Sun. The Sun's pull on the Moon is more
than twice as strong as the pull of the Earth; viewed from outside the Solar
system the Moon would be seen to revolve around the Sun, with an orbit that is
always concave to the Sun. The Earth/Moon system is therefore that of a double
planet, each gravitating around a barycentre. This barycentre falls within the
body of the Earth, although quite near its surface.
However, was it not for the calming influence of the Moon's gravity on the
Earth, half of Earth would remain in darkness for 6 months at a time, and the
climate would be changed beyond recognition. The Moon particularly affects the
tilt of the Earth, although all the planets affect the angle of the equator
with respect to the plane of its orbit. Without the Moon's effect, in 18
million years time the Earth's tilt would have changed by 50°, and would
eventually reach 90°.
Friction of the tides on Earth due to the Moon's drag is also slowing Earth's
rotation. Each century an Earth day becomes longer by 0.0017 seconds as the
angular momentum of the slowing Earth is transferred to the Moon, which in
consequence is moving away from Earth at a rate of 1.6" per year. It has
therefore already gained 3 ft since Armstrong walked on it; and so 4,000
million years ago the Moon, if in its current orbit, would only have been one
third of the distance it is now from Earth. A clock set in the time of Homer
would now be out by six hours. Clay tablets from Babylon document precise
eclipse times from 2,500 years ago that differ from what they would be if the
day's length remained constant, as their day was one twentieth of a second
shorter. Chinese records dating 500-1200 AD confirm these findings. Ultimately
days will get so long they will coincide with a lunar month.
Because the Earth is itself moving, the interval between two new Moons (a
synodic month, lunar month, or lunation) is slightly greater, as the Moon
catches up: 29.53059 days.
The average distance to the Moon from the Earth's surface is 232,841.69 miles.
If there were a lunar expressway and you drove your space-car at a constant
speed of 65 mph it would take 4 months, 29 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes to
reach the Moon. It was at its closest to Earth in the twentieth century,
centre to centre, on 4 January 1912 when it was just 221,441 miles away at
perigee. On 2 March 1984 it was farthest away at 252,718 miles, its largest
Astronomers at Boston University led by Prof Michael Mendillo, discovered in
1991 that the Moon has an invisible comet-like tail of sodium gas. This
extends 15,000 miles away from its surface, pointing away from the Sun,
because of the small pressure of sunlight on the gas. This faint atmosphere is
formed when meteorites such as those from the Leonid meteor shower strike the
surface of the Moon, releasing gases trapped in lunar rocks and soils, and
allow sodium to dissipate into space. This was confirmed in 1999 during
observations of the Leonid shower, when the tail is most active. The sodium
glow recurs at the time of the new moon.
The polar regions of Earth heat up by over ½°C every 27 days, at the time of
a full Moon, for reasons not yet understood, but believed to be connected with
its gravitational pull. In 2000 Charles Keeler, of Scripps Institute of
Oceanography at the University of California in San Diego CA, claimed that
lunar oscillations reset Earth's thermostat through its influence on the
tides. "It seems to be the pacemaker of rapid climate change", he
said. Gerard Bond of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University,
New York NY had uncovered observations of 1,500-1,800 year lunar cycles.
A large meteor impacted on the Crescent Moon on 18 June 1198, when the English
monk Gervase reported:
"In this year, on the Sunday before the feast of St John the Baptist
after sunset when the moon had first become visible, a marvellous phenomenon
was witnessed by some five or more men who were sitting there facing the Moon.
Now there was a bright new moon, and as usual in that phase, its horns were
tilted towards the East and suddenly the upper horn split in two.
"From the midpoint of the division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out
over a considerable distance, fire, hot coals and sparks. Meanwhile the body
of the Moon below it, writhed, as it were in anxiety, and to put it in the
words of those who reported it to me and saw it with their own eyes, the moon
throbbed like a wounded snake. Afterwards it resumed its proper state. This
phenomenon was repeated a dozen times."
The Moon then took on a black appearance, and nearly 800 years later is still
wobbling from this encounter, which is now thought to have formed the 12-mile
Giordano Bruno crater.
Moon rocks recovered by Apollo astronauts were mostly formed from cooling
lava, and so are igneous rocks. Quarantine procedures were abandoned after it
was discovered that the Moon was apparently completely lifeless. Some rocks,
collected from the lower areas of the lunar surface that are observed as maria
from Earth, are similar to the basalt found on Earth. These newest rocks are
dated at between 3.1 and 3.8 billion years old, as old as the oldest on Earth.
Rocks from higher regions are referred to as gabbro, norite and anorthosite.
These differ from Earth rocks due to the total lack of water, and the presence
of crystals of metallic iron that occur because of a lack of free oxygen.
Lunar minerals include feldspar, olivine, pyroxine, ilmenite, plagioclase and
troilite. Traces of uranium, silicon, potassium, magnesium, iron, aluminium
have been found in lunar dust, as has 3He, an isotope of helium, which could
be used by future settlers to fuel fusion reactions.
Leonardo da Vinci is credited with the drawing in around 1505 of the oldest
known Moon map. The first ever published lunar map was created without the aid
of a telescope by a British scientist, W Gilbert, in or around 1600 (published
posthumously in 1651). Galileo also drew an early map using a telescope in
1610. Sir William Lower, drawing the Moon circa 1611 in Wales, remarked that
the full moon resembled "a tart which his cook had made". The first
photograph of the Moon was taken on 23 March 1840 by JW Draper and from the
1870s photography became an essential lunar mapping tool.
Pre-dating all of these is a stone carving found in Knowth, County Meath in
Ireland, discovered in 1999, and thought to be a prehistoric Moon map. Its
discoverer, Philip Stooke of the University of Western Ontario, showed that
the series of arcs cut into its surface line-up with a super-imposed image of
the Moon, showing features such as Mare Humorum and Mare Crisium. Radio-carbon
dating shows it was built 3000-3100 BC. At certain times, moonlight could
shine down the eastern passage of the tomb where it was found and fall on the
The Moon's history is divided into 6 periods. Accretion took up 100 million
years, at which time a thin crust began to form above a layer of molten
radio-active rocks which were caused by the gravitational impact of the rapid
accretion of orbiting material. The Lunar Highlands contain the oldest rocks,
or breccia, formed during the Cataclysmic Period, during which 300 million
years heavy bombardment from rocks and meteorites took place. The next 300
million years, 4.2 to 3.9 billion years ago, known as the Nectarian Period,
also involved bombardment and several basins were formed, including,
chronologically, Tranquillity, Imbriam, Serenity, Crisium and Orientale. Of
these, the largest is the Imbriam basin, 900 miles across, caused by the
impact of an asteroid 60 miles in diameter. The Imbrian Period lasted until
3.1 billion years ago, and marked the appearance of the basalt maria which was
forced up from its interior and spread in layers over the low depressions of
the Moon's surface. Laboratory tests show samples of this to run like engine
oil when heated. During the Eratosthenian Period to 0.8 million years ago,
little changed apart from the formation of the regolith, the fine-grained
surface layer, as smaller meteorites continued to bombard the surface, and
some new craters. The most modern period is called the Copernican Period,
during which the ray craters, such as Tycho, North Ray and South Ray, were
In 1994 Clementine, an American Defence Department probe orbiting the Moon on
a 71-day mission between February and May, picked up indications of water on
the Moon. These took the form of pockets of ice, possibly from a comet crash
3.6 billion years earlier, in the craters in the Schrodinger basin (the
deepest hole in the Solar System), near its South Pole, on the dark side of
the Moon. The temperature here never exceeds -230° C. The ice formation was
the size of a small lake, and was between 10 and 100 ft deep. Four years
later, on 5 March 1998, NASA announced that the Lunar Prospector probe
(launched 6 January 1998, 2128 EST, Cape Canaveral FL) had confirmed the
presence of considerable quantities of water on the Moon. This was mainly at
the South and North Poles, but probably below the surface of the Moon's
craters also. By September that year the estimated amount had been upgraded
tenfold to 6 billion metric tons. This significant find of water, if
confirmed, would make the future colonisation of the Moon far more practical,
as NASA has calculated that 30 million tonnes would enable 2,000 people to
survive for well over a century.
An optimum site for establishing a moonbase was established from data
collected by the Clementine probe, backed up by the Lunar Prospector's
discoveries. The rim of the crater Shackleton is illuminated for most of the
time, so solar arrays could be used to produce electricity, and the site would
also provide access to the lunar ice believed to be found in areas of
permanent shade close by.
A Japanese company, Obayashi, was already at work on a project to create a
10,000-strong self-sufficient community living on the Moon in a giant
see-through dome. Hilton International had plans for a thousand-foot high
Lunar Hilton, powered by solar energy, with 5,000 rooms and its own lake,
while the Japanese Shimizu Corporation designed the ultimate lunar golf
course. Applied Space Resources were planning to sells bags of rock brought
back from the Moon; and LunaCorp planned an amusement arcade-style console
controlling a buggy on the moon. MoonEstates.com on the other hand
"sells" land on the Moon from its base in Cornwall, for £10 per
acre; Francis Williams sees the Moon as a tax haven and wants to open a lunar
Lunar Prospector was designed to crash on the surface of the Moon when its
mission had been completed, bearing scientific equipment. It also held the
ashes of the astronomer-scientist Gene Shoemaker (b. 28 April 1928, Los
Angeles CA; d. 18 July 1997, Alice Springs, Australia), who had died in a car
accident. This provoked objections from Navajo tribe officials, who regard the
Moon as sacred ground, unsuitable for human remains. On 31 July 1999 the craft
was duly crashed onto the Moon's surface at its South Pole. The 3,600 mph
crash, at 1051 BST, created an explosion so great that any water vapour would
form a mist in the vicinity that might have been be visible to Earth
telescopes; however early indications were that none had been detected.
The Moon sigil represents it as a reflection of the Sun, in that the
important part of the symbol is not the semicircular crescent but the rest of
the lunar globe, which is in shadow. It is therefore symbolic of the
subconscious and hidden part of man, which governs our emotions and
behavioural instincts. If the Sun is the Spirit, then the Moon is the Soul,
which is the link between Spirit and Matter (Earth, symbolised by the
Ascendant in the horoscope).
In myth, the Moon is nearly always the Sun's daughter, sister or consort. The
Greeks personify her as the goddess Selene (previously, Luna and Artemis), and
as can be identified with Astrae, Demeter, Proserpina and Diana. The moon-god
of Assyro-Babylonion mythology, Sin, occupied the chief place in their astral
triad, with Shamash (the sun) and Ishtar (Venus), his children. In Roman
mythology the goddess of the virgin moon is known as Diana, and the Moon is
also identified with Ceres.
In Hebrew the moon goddess is Levanah, and in Egyptian tradition she is Isis
(goddess of the Moon and Magic), Hathor and Hecate. In India she is
Chandra-Devi. To the Chaldeans she was Nana. In the ancient traditions of
witchcraft she is Brid, Maiden-Goddess of the waxing Moon; Diana,
Mother-Goddess of the full Moon and the Morrigan, Crone-Goddess of the waning
Moon. To the Druids she is Ceridwen. She represents the female force that
reflects the male force of the Sun.
Many festival calendars in many cultures are still determined by the Moon's
position; Easter and Whitsun, for example, in the Christian tradition. Easter
is determined by finding the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs
on or after the Spring Equinox (modified to keep the date between 22 March and
25 April). The second day of the week is ruled by the Moon and is named Monday
after it. The Moon is the ruler of Cancer, but in esoteric astrology it rules
The Moon is symbolic of the Virgin Mary and the entire month of May is
consecrated to her in the Catholic church, a practice dating back at least to
Plutarch, who wrote, "May is sacred to Maïe or Vesta - our mother-earth,
our nurse and nourisher personified." The Moon sign was regarded by the
Romans as more important the Sun sign. Augustus had the sea-goat on his coins
because his Moon was in Capricorn, but his Sun sign was Libra.
Symbolically, the Moon's orbital path suggests the dual nature of the Moon,
divided between the pull of the Sun (spirit) and the Earth (physical body),
and the cyclical rhythms it makes in response to the pull of the Earth/Sun
polarity result in the ebb and flow of our tides. The Sun also affects the
strength of the tides, so that at a new or full Moon the effect of the Sun
reinforces that of the Moon, producing strong "spring" tides. At the
first and third quarters the Sun's attraction partially cancels that of the
Moon, giving weak "neap" tides.
Fertility, growth and decay were associated with the lunation phases, and this
has now been scientifically verified. The Moon influences plant growth, and
all the fluids of the earth. The sidereal lunar month corresponds with the
female menstruation cycle. Czech investigators have found that carnivorous
mites feed in synchronicity with the Moon, slowing down around the full and
new Moon, even though they had been bred in artificial conditions devoid of
moonlight, and kept in constantly bright laboratory conditions. US scientists
found that sea weed algae shed their sex cells in phase with lunar rhythms,
even when taken hundreds of miles inland.
A lunar rhythm has also been found in the flight of honeybees, whose sugar
content of blood peaks at full and new Moons. This could be because the Moon
affects hormones controlling their sugar levels. In a survey of 2,000 murders
in Florida over 15 years, peaks of homicides coincided with full Moons. BT
revealed in December 2000 that they had identified a 29-day cycle in household
telephone patterns, with a peak number of calls in the days before a full
The Transylvania Hypothesis, reported by The Independent (12 December 2000),
shows that GP consultations peak 6 days after a full Moon - 3.6% higher than
average. The Moon is known to affect patients with mental illness, but there
was no link in these consultations with anxiety or depression and the cause of
this phenomenon is unknown.
Alcohol Consumption and the Moon's Influence (2000) is an essay by
Hans-Joachim Mittmeyer of the University of Tübingen and Norbert Filipp from
Reutlingen Health Institute. In it, they claimed that during a full Moon there
was a definite pattern of increased alcohol consumption. There were increased
arrests for drunkenness and driving while under the influence at this time.
Researchers in Baden-Würtemburg had studied police reports for 50 new and
full Moon cycles, involving 16,495 people tested for blood-alcohol levels. 161
drink-drivers on average were caught during a full Moon, and 175 per day in
the two days before, compared with an average of 120 at other times. This
seems to show a definite correlation, but the astronomer Wolfgang Meyer from
Berlin was reported in The Times as commenting, "Perhaps there is another
element to it - that the Moon has some effect on the police forces and makes
them more alert to catch drunks."
In the horoscope, the Moon is said to represent our emotional nature,
unconscious personality, our set of habits and instincts, constantly changing
and responding to external stimuli. It is the imaginative, reflective side of
feelings and emotions, and is linked with the subconscious element in the
modern image of man. It embodies the principle of rhythms through conditioned,
unconscious and instinctive response patterns, assimilation and reflection. It
is an index of the receptive, withdrawn, secluded part of us and rules over
the past and nostalgia. It is thought to influence primarily the right
hemisphere of the brain, the feminine principal or Yin area of emotional
security, musical and intuitive thought. It signifies the habits, mannerisms,
feelings and moods; fluctuation, emotional responses, the protective and herd
instincts and the desire for security, health and sexuality. The Moon attracts
us to matters or people that require attention or protection. It can represent
the mother in our chart, and signifies maternal rather than romantic love,
demanding ownership of affection to satisfy emotional insecurity.
A Lunar Return chart can be cast for each month, when the Moon returns to
its natal degree, and can give an overview of the following cycle, with
especial relevance to matters of health. The Moon is the most important planet
in a Lunar Return, just as Jupiter would be in a Jupiter Return.
Phases Of The Moon
Phases of the Moon occur because the Earth obscures the light reflected
from the Sun to some degree. As the size of the Moon increases it is said to
be waxing, and once it has become full it then proceeds to wane. As Leonardo
da Vinci first explained, because it also reflects light from the Earth, which
reciprocates light at roughly 40% efficiency, during the Moon's crescent phase
the part of the Moon without illumination can still be visible, due to
earth-light, or earthshine. A new Moon is also called the "dark of the
moon", though the official period of darkness lasts for only one second,
when the moon is directly between the Sun and Earth.
The first visible crescent Moon is usually spotted two or three days after the
new Moon, though the earliest recorded sighting was just 14 hours after a new
Moon. Illumination of the Moon shortly following a new Moon, when earthlight
reveals or reddish coppery globe to the left of the new crescent, is called
the "old moon in the new moon's arms".
The phases of the Moon are all used by astrologers, both on natal and transit
charts, along with its eclipses and returns. Traditionally, the first twelve
hours from the exact time of a new Moon are bad, the next 72 are good, the
next 12 bad and so on. Twelve hours represents an orb of 6½°, following each
of the hard aspects:
New Moon (0/28 days) Sun conjunct Moon
Waxing Crescent Moon (3½ days Sun) semisquare Moon
First Quarter (7 days) Sun square Moon
Waxing Gibbous Moon (10½ days) Sun sesquiquadrate Moon
Full Moon (14 days) Sun opposition Moon
Disseminating Moon (17½ days) Sun sesquiquadrate Moon
Last Quarter (21 days) Sun square Moon
Balsamic Moon (24½ days) Sun semisquare Moon
The Moon's position in the Earth's sky is as follows:
A winter Full Moon will be higher in the sky than a Summer Full Moon.
There are 12-13 lunar months in a year, beginning and ending with a New Moon
(or Sun/Moon conjunction), and so a 13-sign zodiac has been suggested, with 13
equal sign divisions of 27° 41' 32.3". The 13th sign is derived from the
constellation Aurige, which sits slightly south of the ecliptic in the zodiac
belt between Taurus and Gemini. Each successive New Moon has a name connected
to Christian festivals. Some of these names were renamed in America,
influenced by the names of Native American tribes such as the Algonquin,
though most of these have now fallen into disuse. These are (giving Colonial
American and two alternatives, including Algonquin Indian):
Moon after Yule, Winter Moon, Wolf Moon
Trapper's Moon, Snow Moon, Hunger Moon
Lenten Moon, Fish Moon, Worm Moon
Planters' Moon, Egg Moon, Seed Moon
Milk Moon, Mother's Moon, Flower Moon
Rose Moon, Stockman's Moon, Strawberry Moon
Hay Moon, Thunder Moon, Buck Moon
Grain Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon
Moon, Fruit Moon, Dying Grass Moon
Hunters' Moon, Blood Moon, Falling Leaves Moon
Beaver Moon, Frosty Moon, All Gathered Moon
Moon before Yule, Christmas Moon, Long Night Moon
The best known of these is the Harvest Moon, which occurs nearest the
autumnal equinox. The Moon following this is known as Hunter's Moon and always
rises early in the evening, illuminating the nocturnal hunter and his prey.
Occasionally, two full Moons will occur in the same calendar month, as these
are slightly longer than the lunar month. When this happens, the second full
Moon is commonly called the Blue Moon and brings the total to thirteen. This
is a recent usage, dating from 1946 as a result of a misunderstanding by an
astronomer misquoting the 1937 Maine Farmers Almanac. Traditionally, a Blue
Moon was the third full moon in a Season that contained four instead of three.
This could occur when the start of a calendrical Season was determined by
applying a rule, which fixed the start of Easter and Lent. The phrase
"Once in a blue moon" first appeared in a pamphlet in 1528, when it
was used to mean "impossible" or "never". An astrological
Blue Moon occurs when two successive Moons fall in the same sign.
At a full moon, light refracting through water droplets in the atmosphere can
cause moonbows. If the water vapour is in the right place and with a clear
sky, a bright full moon acts like the sun and creates a rainbow at night. The
rainbow may appear black without sky to view it against. Hawaiian Islands make
it one of the few places where moonbows can be seen, due to their clear skies
and moist air.
The mean distance the Moon travels through the ecliptic in one day is known as
a lunar mansion, and these form a lunar zodiac of 28, or sometimes 27,
divisions. We know of three different series of lunar mansions, originating in
Arabia, India and China. These are all variants of a single system now lost,
but which predates the classification of constellations and the introduction
of a solar zodiac. All variants began with the star Alcyone, which presumably
occupied the vernal equinox when they were originated, but now the practice is
to refer the mansions of 12° 51' each to the ecliptic circle, beginning with
the 27th mansion at 0° Aries.
Until the first manned Moon landing virtually all astrology had been
geocentric, i.e. showing the planetary positions and influences relative to
Earth. With the Moon landing, however, that was no longer the case, and an
accurate horoscope of the event would have to be cast selenocentrically, i.e.
with the Moon at the centre of the chart, and showing the Earth appearing to
orbit the Moon.
Such a chart was calculated in 1969 by Edgar Maedlow in Berlin for the moment
that Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon. It shows the
Sun at 28° Cancer and Earth on the 9th house cusp at 11½° Aries. Mercury is
at 26¼° Cancer, Venus at 15¼° Gemini, Mars at 2° Sagittarius, Jupiter and
Uranus exactly conjunct at ¼° Libra (as seen from the Moon), Saturn at 8°
Taurus, Neptune at 26° Scorpio and Pluto at 23° Virgo. The Ascendant is at
12° Leo. At the time of take-off from the Moon the Ascendant was at 19° Leo,
having been at 8° Leo when Eagle landed. Geocentric and heliocentric charts
for this moment have also been cast. As space travel becomes more commonplace,
so non-geocentric astrology will have to be increasingly used and understood.
It is believed from computer model projections undertaken at the University
of Colorado in Boulder, led by scientists from Tokyo University in 1997, that
the planetary collision with Earth which created our Moon, actually created
two moons. Each took about a year to coalesce, but one got lost at some point
over the next 4 billion years.
The hypothesis of a second moon has support from various legends and ancient
documents of other cultures concerning Lilith. This body supposedly collided
with Earth, or escaped its orbit some tens of thousands of years ago, in the
chaos following the theoretical destruction of a planet or star in what is now
the Asteroid Belt.
Tibetan accounts tell how we had first one satellite (Lilith), then two (Lilith
and Luna), then only one (Luna, the Moon), during which time Earth stood
still, the poles reversed, and the Sun apparently "stood still for a
day", during which time our satellites reversed direction. We were then
tilted again, with whole oceans vanishing, new mountains raising, and Tibet
itself becoming "raised up to the heavens". The same tale seems to
occur in Judaic lore, and has been related to the story of the Atlantis
disaster found in Genesis. These legendary events were said to have occurred
around 7,500 BC, although this would seem remarkably recent.
If a moon was despatched into space as a result of some cosmic collision, it
could eventually have settled into an orbital path as an asteroid or become
captured as a moon further out in the Solar System.
More than one Lilith is used in astrology. One is the so-called Dark Moon (the
other focal point of the Moon's elliptical orbit). Another is Sepharial's
Lilith, a hypothetical planet, while yet a third is an asteroid from the
asteroid belt. None of these is connected to the history of our Moon.
The Moon's nodes, the two points of intersection of the orbit of the Moon
to the Ecliptic, are also used in astrology. All the other planets have nodes,
but these are not generally taken into account. The point of intersection
where the orbit of the Moon is northbound is called the North Node, or
Ascending Node, and the intersection where the orbit is southbound is the
South Node, or Descending Node. This retrograde cycle of the Moon is a lunar
equivalent to the solar Equinoxes, with the North Node resembling the First
Point of Aries, and the South Node equating to the Libra equinox, when the Sun
descends from North to South. The Moon's nodes move backwards along the
Celestial Sphere in a plane which is inclined by about 5° to the Earth's
solar orbit at the rate of about 1° in 19 days, or 3' per day. The nodal
revolution of the Moon is equal to one mansion. Each time it crosses the
ecliptic at the North Node this point has preceded along the ecliptic
slightly, completing a 360° cycle in 18 years 10/11 days, or 223 lunar
months: this is a Saros Cycle and Nodal Return.
The North and South Nodes were known as the Dragon's Head and Tail (Draconis
Caput and Draconis Cauda). The Dragon was imagined as being coiled around
Earth, symbolising the lunar sphere, and was said to devour the New Moon.
The nodes of the Moon are more complex in motion than planetary nodes because
the Moon is orbiting the Earth as well as the Sun, and this gives the Moon a
role as an intermediary between the Earth and the other planets. The Moon's
nodes therefore have a special symbolic significance, with the double orbital
element of their path indicating double choice in the corresponding events.
Aspects of the North Node determine our relationships to prevailing social
trends and attitudes, and their use of the opportunities afforded by history
in the making. They indicate the direction our efforts should take for maximum
benefit. Aspects of the South Node indicate the ways in which habit tendencies
arising from our past experiences influence our present attitudes and
behaviour. They indicate how we should tackle past experience for minimum
limitation. Some, particularly Eastern, astrologers relate the Nodes to karmic
When the Moon passes in front of another planet or star and obscures it,
this is an occultation. When the Moon passes in front of the Sun and partially
or wholly obscures it there is a Solar Eclipse. This can be seen on Earth by
an observer situated in the area covered by the shadow. When it passes into
the Earth's shadow and is obscured there is a Lunar Eclipse, visible from an
entire hemisphere of the Earth.
A dramatic eclipse in the Pacific on 5 February 1962 involved a conjunction of
Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, the seven principal
members of the Solar System, in the sign of Aquarius, not more than 16° wide.
The totality of a Solar Eclipse lasts up to 7' 40", while the totality of
a Lunar Eclipse can last 1 hr 44'. The "Great Eclipse" of 11 July
1991, visible in Mexico and Hawaii, lasted over 7 minutes, while on 7 July
1339 a total eclipse in Orkney and the Shetland Islands lasted only 1 second.
A New Moon 15-19° this side of a nodal axis may bring a partial Solar
Eclipse; closer in will always bring one. Within 9-10° will bring a total
eclipse. A Full Moon has to occur within 5-6° of the orb of the Node to be a
total Lunar Eclipse, as these have smaller orbs than Solar Eclipses. A Lunar
Eclipse cannot be total if the angle is greater than 12° 15'.
The synodic period of the eclipse year is 346.62003 days. Lunar eclipses have
been calculated back to 3450 BC, and solar ones to 4200 BC. The first
documented eclipse occurred in China in 2136 BC. The oldest recorded Solar
Eclipse is on a clay tablet found among the ruins of Ugarit, now in Syria, and
records the eclipse of 5 March 1223 BC.
In 450 BC Anaxagoras of Clazomenae reasoned that because the Earth's shadow on
the Moon was curved, the Earth must therefore itself be spherical.
Between 20 March 1140 and 3 May 1715 no centre of the path of totality for a
Solar Eclipse crossed London, but on 29 June 1927 one crossed West Hartlepool
in Cleveland for 24.5 seconds at 0623 hr. There is an average of an eclipse
sighting once every 350 years in any one place. One famously crossed the coast
at St Just, Cornwall, on 11 August 1999 at 1111 BST, and on 14 June 2151 at
1825 BST there will be a 99% total eclipse in central London (total in
Sheffield and Norfolk).
Other types of eclipses are the Penumbral Eclipse and the Annular Eclipse. A
Penumbral Eclipse is one where the moon does not pass directly through the
shadow of the Earth, but hovers in the periphery in the penumbra of the
shadow. In an Annular Solar Eclipse the light of the Sun is not completely
blocked despite the precise alignment, due to the relative distances of the
three planetary bodies, and a ring or annulus of sunlight is visible around
the circumference of the Moon.
Notable Total Eclipses next occur on 21 June 2001 (Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe,
Mozambique)(4' 57"), 4 December 2002 (Angola-Mozambique, S Australia)(2'
04"), 23 November 2003 (Antarctica, Indian Ocean)(1' 57"), 8 April
2005 (Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela)(0' 42"), 29 March 2006
(Ghana-Libya, Turkey-Kazakhstan)(4' 07"). The next visible from the
British Isles is 20 March 2015 (Faroe Islands only)(2' 45").
Eclipses have always been regarded as being of considerable significance.
The ancients are said to have believed that a dragon called Atalia was
swallowing the Sun and Moon. Eclipses were regarded as malignant in a chart if
the degrees involved were conjunct the radical Sun, Moon, ASC, MC or any
malefic. New techniques are still being pioneered for eclipse interpretation,
thanks to computer technology, and though the essence of most eclipse research
is similar, there are some understandable differences among various schools.
A total Solar Eclipse is thought to contain the most inherent emotional
intensity, it seems, and the greatest understanding of the core urges
motivating us to become our Sun sign. The ancients ruled that the effects of a
Solar Eclipse would last the equivalent of one year for every hour of eclipse,
limited to the degree of the eclipse. A total Lunar Eclipse creates a time
where our logic needs to deal with the emotional reactions of the psyche, and
delay emotional response. The ancients ruled that its effects would last the
equivalent of one month for each hour of eclipse, timed from the first moment
of the occultation. While partial eclipses are less extreme, Annular Eclipses
are very rare and consequently considered the most powerful. Since Solar and
Lunar Eclipses in each cycle take place two weeks apart, one eclipse
establishes the nature of the other, and a temporary process of intense
communication between left and right brain is established.
Charles A Jayne wrote that Solar or Lunar Eclipses, occurring up to one year
after (as well as before) the chart, affect the bodies in it via conjunctions
and oppositions (with a maximum orb of 3°). Natal bodies in conjunction or
opposition (including parallel and contraparallel aspects) to such Eclipses
have considerable extra energy and are thus rendered focal to the chart. Jayne
used Eclipse charts in Mundane Forecasting. First, he would consider major
planetary configurations (mutations etc.). Then he would examine the
"Eclipse hits" to see if any area of the chart was being triggered,
and the Eclipse paths (areas of totality being the strongest), revealing
likely areas of action. He would then scan through his charts to see if any
countries or leaders were being strongly affected by the eclipse in their
individual horoscopes, and analyse those individual horoscopes, utilising
other techniques: progressions, directions etc.). The same techniques apply to
personal charts. Midpoints can be used in conjunction with eclipse charts, and
applied to any relevant natal charts using the 45° dial.
Christopher Columbus allegedly exploited a forthcoming Lunar Eclipse while
stranded on an island in the Caribbean. The natives had stopped providing food
for the crew, but Columbus told them on the night of 29 February 1504 that the
gods would show their displeasure by removing the Moon. Minutes after the
eclipse the natives capitulated, and the Moon reassuringly reappeared.
A Natal Eclipse is the eclipse that relates to the natal birth chart, and
triggers things to do with it. Bill Meridian rules that a Lunar Eclipse must
happen 6 weeks on either side of the birth date and a Solar eclipse 3 months
either side. The area in the birth chart where the eclipse occurs becomes
sensitised and activated. If two eclipses occur together, both have effect.
When in doubt as to the Natal Eclipse, his technique is to look first at the
proximity of time to the birth chart. If that doesn't work, the eclipse
closest in time that relates to the chart (directly or by synastry) is
considered. If an eclipse doesn't land anywhere important, mutual aspects are
compared to see if the same patterns (e.g. Saturn trine Uranus) recur in natal
and eclipse charts. A natal chart may be relocated to its Natal Eclipse chart
and the angles considered.
Those born on an eclipse (e.g. Karl Marx) are likely to be unusually fearless
and formidable, and to believe their actions to differ from those of other
people. If a birthday subsequently occurs very close to an eclipse, the
following year is likely to be a strongly fated one.
The Prenatal Eclipse
The Prenatal Eclipse is the last Solar Eclipse to appear prior to the time
of birth, regardless of whether this occurs six months or a few seconds before
birth. Information about past lives and rebirth, situations and relationships
experienced during the present lifetime, is revealed by noting the following:
(i) its zodiacal position
(ii) the node at which it occurred
(iii) its type (total, annular, partial)
(iv) its geographical longitude and latitude at the time it began at the noon
point (or, in the case of a partial eclipse, the greatest eclipse point)
(v) its location at the time it ended.
The accompanying Lunar Eclipse will appear approximately a fortnight before or
afterwards, sometimes after birth, providing additional information.
Another technique, used by Bill Meridian among others, is to superimpose the
area of an eclipse path, usually derived from an astronomical eclipse computer
program, onto an AstroCartoGraphy map and use the results complementarily. The
rise and set points of eclipses are regarded as very important. As a general
rule, sunrise marks the beginning, noon the peak, and sunset the end of an
eclipse event, geographically. If you go beyond the "quality" of an
eclipse path, the effect will be lost.
There are between two and seven eclipses in a year, as in 1944 and 1969
when there were two Solar Eclipses, and 1982, when there were four Solar and
three Lunar Eclipses. Eclipses tend to come in twos and threes, a Lunar
Eclipse always being preceded or followed by a Solar Eclipse. An Eclipse
Season occurs when the Sun is either side of the Nodal Axis, and then 2 Solar
Eclipses or 1-3 Lunar Eclipses will occur within a period of six months.
Solar and Lunar Eclipses occur in a chart roughly where the transiting True
Nodal Axis is, and emphasise a set of houses (4th/10th or 5th/11th etc.) each
However eclipses are not isolated individual events but are part of a whole
family or series. Eclipses with very similar circumstances tend to recur every
18 years 10/11 days. During this time there are 14 partial eclipses, 17
annular eclipses, 10 Solar Eclipses and 29 Lunar Eclipses - 70 in all. This
period is called a Saros Series or cycle (Saros = regular, repeating),
discovered by the Babylonians, and is used as a guide to predicting eclipses.
The Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus is reported to have used the Saros to
predict the eclipse of 28 May 585 BC, though the earliest recorded eclipse
occurred during the Shang dynasty, in 1302 BC, written on oracle bones.
The method works because 19 eclipse years (6,585.78 days) happens to almost
precisely equal 223 synodic months (6,585.32) and 239 anomalistic months
(6,585.54 days), so the configuration of Sun, Moon and Earth is similarly
repeated at each Saros interval. For example on 29 January 1953 there was a
total Lunar Eclipse, visible from England, and then on 10 February 1971 there
was a total Lunar Eclipse, not visible from England as the Moon had set before
the eclipse had ended. Because the three periods are not exactly equal, each
eclipse in a given series differs slightly from the previous one. At any given
moment there are seven Saros series in progress, overlapping one another.
Bernadette Brady, the antipodean astrologer, states that the first eclipse
of the Saros cycle is the key to interpreting the nature of each subsequent
eclipse in its cycle. An eclipse starts at the North or South Pole as a small
partial eclipse, just in front of the Nodal Axis. Every 18 years 9 days, give
or take a day, this eclipse will produce another eclipse belonging to the same
series, roughly 10° on from the last. Each eclipse moves 120° longitude and
a little further down the globe until it reaches the other pole about 1,200
years later (plus or minus 18 years), like a wave across the planet. During
this series 71- 72 eclipses will occur, and at any one point there will be
about 19 of these waves running North to South (Saros Series North) and
another running the other way (Saros Series South), 38-40 in all.
Each eclipse belongs to a precise Saros Series and should be defined by the
Series it belongs to. The eclipse of 4 July 1990, for example, was from Saros
Series 10 South, born 10 March 1179 OS at 0736 hr 20" GMT at the South
Pole, when Mars was on the New Moon/Pluto midpoint. The eclipse of 15 January
1990 was Saros Series 11 North, which was born conjunct its Uranus/North Node
midpoint. The Solar Eclipse of 11 August 1999 was the 21st of 77 in Saros 145,
which will end in 3009.
Each eclipse is numbered by its year of birth. A new one begins before the old
one has died so they are named Saros South Series 10 Old and Saros South
Series 10 New (this is dropped when the Old has died). The midpoint of an
eclipse, when it is exactly total occurs within a roughly 10° orb of the
place it was born in the zodiac, after a period of some 650 years. This most
central eclipse has the lowest Gamma rating and is considered the most
powerful of its series. The eclipse of 11 July 1991, for example, was the
central eclipse of its series. It coincided with the Soviet coup.
The cycle can be used in Mundane Astrology, since a Saros Series will be
connected with a line of development or thought in human culture. Saros Series
14, for example, was born on the Mercury/Pluto midpoint of its birth chart, so
could be thought to represent ideas that transform the world. In the eclipse
years of its cycle, Guttenberg invented the printing press (1452), Copernicus
published his theory that the Sun was the centre of our planetary system
(1543), Newton published his laws on Physics (1687) and Einstein wrote his
Theory of Relativity (1905). Prince William was born on Saros Series 2 Old
North, which began 792 AD, and dies in July 2036, the same eclipse cycle on
which Alfred the Great was born.
An eclipse will be active on a natal chart when conjunct a planet by transit,
but it can only be from the same eclipse series if at factors of 10° and 18
Last updated 02 December 2003