Yesterday, we had an annular eclipse. Eclipses generally happen once per year, and occur when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. The annular eclipse involves the Moon being somewhat closer to the Earth than it usually is, therefore not completely blocking out the Sun, where we see a “ring of fire.”
The reason eclipses happen once per year as opposed to, say, once per month, is that the Moon’s orbit is slightly tilted relative to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. It’s tilted about 5 degrees. If it wasn’t tilted, the Moon would pass directly in front of the Sun every time there was a new Moon. (We’d also have a lunar eclipse every month at the time there’s a full Moon.
The point where the planes, or orbits, intersect are known as the Nodes. There is a North Node, which has to do with the things you were put on this earth to do, and there is, exactly opposite on the chart wheel, a South Node, which has to do with the things you came into this lifetime already knowing what to do, that you don’t particularly get rewarded for.
When either of the nodes becomes conjunct with the Sun and Moon (Sun is only conjunct Moon during a new Moon), that’s where the eclipse happens. This year’s eclipse was only total in a line stretching from eastern Africa, through Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, northern India, and China. Right now, about two days after the eclipse, the Sun is only three degrees from the North Node, on the Gemini-Cancer cusp.
I didn’t want to talk Astrology today, though. I wanted to recap my experience with the first and only total solar eclipse I ever experienced, the Great American Eclipse, which itself took place near a cusp, the Leo-Virgo cusp, on August 21, 2017.
I live in Denver, CO, and the total solar eclipse was not happening all that far from me. I was late to the party, though, having learned that it was within driving distance only a few weeks (or at most a month) before the event. I found that it could be seen in Casper, WY — northward on I-25 — but realized a little later that I didn’t have to drive that far; there was a state park, Glendo State Park, about 100 miles north of Cheyenne.
I got some eclipse sunglasses that blocked out most of the light, and only showed the Sun as a relatively faint disc.
I didn’t know anything about the park but I figured that they were allowing visitors, given the circumstance. But Cheyenne was 100 miles north of me, meaning that it would be a 200-mile drive one way to get to Glendo State Park. Since this was starting early in the morning, and since traffic was expected to be a problem, 200 miles one way was a bit much — I needed to find a hotel or bed-and-breakfast.
Thus began the ordeal of trying to find something affordable. Of which there wasn’t anything. People had been planning for this event for months or even years, and prices were at least fivefold what they would usually be. Then I did find a hotel that was offering lodging for — get this — about $60 per night. Weird. I didn’t think too much about it; I just made the reservation.
Days before the event I was notified that the hotel’s offer of $60 was a glitch and there were no vacancies. I was told that because of the mistake, Booking.com would reimburse me for the hotel of my choice. I would just have to wait for the reimbursement. I found a hotel for about $600/night, the rep at Booking said that was reasonable, and I would only have to file paperwork in order to get reimbursed.
(It turned out there was a fair amount of red tape and hassle to be reimbursed, but I persisted and several weeks later eventually got my money back.)
I arrived to Cheyenne on Sunday night the 20th. I had this idea that I’d have the ability to work out the morning of the 21st, but in any case set my alarm for about 2:30 in the morning. (I am not a morning person). I slept through the alarm but then woke up around 3. There wasn’t enough time to get a workout in. I gathered my things and got in my car and started the 100 mile drive to the state park around 4:30 in the morning. It was still dark. It was going to be a LONG day for me, too — I had a radio show at midnight that night, that wouldn’t end until 3am.
The sun came up by the time I reached Glendo. Of course there was someone there offering admission, and it was only $6. I went through the gate and looked for someplace to go. I took a road that passed through encampments that overlooked a large lake. I picked on and went down a little steep hill (Subaru Foresters are good for this) and there were already people there. It was about 6am.
I was very lucky to pick an encampment where there were people setting up a telescope — actual scientists. They’d be able to put the scope in the right place and we’d be able to look at the sun throughout the morning. All there was left to do was wait — and socialize, as people started trickling in, and the morning developed, without clouds in the sky.
There was a family who came in not long after I got there. The man was fascinating — a born-again Christian who was one of the most present people I have ever met. He came right up to me and started talking to me, acknowledging what was so — he and I in the same space, “here we are.”
He had come all the way from Colorado Springs that morning — at least 250 miles; he must have left his house not long after midnight.
We had discussions throughout the morning. He came across to me as an impossible inspiration, not impossible in terms of “couldn’t happen” but impossible for me to achieve. He had eschewed antidepressants in his life. That was definitely something I couldn’t do, as I thought of the cognitive benefits that they provided. We had as I recalled a discussion, sitting down, of philosophy that turned into theology — a rewarding conversation for me in particular.
I recognized his born-again — I could even identify with it — but cautioned him about becoming a fundamentalist. I wouldn’t have wanted him to start believing that the world was created by God in seven days. Oh, and it was within one day of his birthday — a Leo-Virgo type; observant.
I spoke with others throughout the morning — the scientists, and one educated young woman who I tried to make aware of the reasons Trump won those midwestern voters in those Rust Belt states — yes, he was a con man, but he made them feel heard, was the gist of what I was saying. It didn’t go over particularly well, but I tend to not have a filter when I’m running on five hours sleep. And no, I voted against Trump).
All of a sudden I heard, “FIRST CONTACT!”
I quickly put on my eclipse sunglasses and lo and behold, that moon had taken a tiny, tiny bite out of the sun. It was 10:24AM.
It would be more than a whole hour (11:45AM) before the eclipse was total. And we didn’t really notice much of a change — other than looking through our sunglasses — until about 11:30. In order to fully understand that, it makes sense to do some math.
Pretend you’re coming out of an eclipse. 1 second out, there is a little bit of sunlight. 2 seconds out, there is twice as much sunlight. 4 seconds out, twice as much sunlight as with 2 seconds out. 8 seconds out, twice as much sunlight as with 4 seconds out.
Now put that in reverse, and elongate the timeline. 8 minutes out, there’s a small sliver of sunlight. 4 minutes out, half as much sunlight. 2 minutes out, half as much sunlight.
Looking directly at the sun without sunglasses, it was very difficult to tell that most of the sun was hidden, even five minutes before totality. And yes, the light outside seemed to get more metallic in nature, and the little animals — crickets, frogs, etc., that were all around us — seemed to be acting a little differently. And you could see the light going through the tree branches, making little crescent shapes on the ground.
1 minute, half as much. 30 seconds, half as much. 15 seconds, 8 seconds, 4 seconds, 2 seconds, 1 second. The changes start slow and the darkness sneaks up on you. We were watching the small crescent lights between the shadows that the branches of the trees were making. It was changing, a little bit faster, and then — slips into darkness.
We all gasped.
I had taken pictures throughout, but I don’t think I had any of the totality itself. It looked like a little black bubble with a faint white outline. It was about as light as maybe halfway through twilight, or maybe even slightly darker. We could still see each other. We were in awe. I had thought of going down to the lake, but for some reason decided against it; instead, I was sitting on the ground.
It lasted for 2 minutes and 28 seconds.
Noting the speed by which it was going to get light, in that reverse-exponential way that was a mirror image of the darkness, I was ready with my camera. I took a picture just a few seconds after the sun had popped out again.
Well, that was our climax. That educated woman who was probably wondering if I was a Trump supporter ended up talking with me again about other things. The crescent shapes were out, except in reverse.
I talked a bit more with people — discussing with the scientists my awe of how they could get eclipses so precise, years in advance. I don’t know how NASA gets its data for future events, but it was amazing to me.
Then I determined that I’d need to get an early start out of there just to be safe and get to the radio station long before midnight. I said goodbye and walked to my car and turned it around and went up the hill. It was not long after noon, and the sun was still partially occluded.
It was three miles to get to the park exit, and there was so much traffic from all of the other encampments that it took nearly four hours to get there. Now it was 4pm, and still about 200 miles to get home AND I was running on minimal sleep.
And with all the people using their cell phones, GPS simply wasn’t working on the drive back to Denver. There was still stop and go traffic on I-25 and, while filling up my gas tank, still north of Cheyenne around 6:30 in the afternoon, I called our station chief and told him that I wasn’t sure if I’d get to the station in time to do my show.
It was starting to get dark by the time I reached Cheyenne. It was still another 100 miles to get to the station. Traffic was starting to thin out but it was still well below the speed limit. Worrying throughout about making time, I got to the station around 11pm.
Our next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will occur on April 8, 2024 and will move diagonally from Texas northeastward to Maine.
There are astrologers who write books on eclipses and how they affect the financial world, in particular. One I personally know, Bill Meridian, was able to make a good living as a financial astrologer and wrote a book about eclipses and how they affect finances. But it’s often just as well to tell stories about the human element of total solar eclipses — how they, through our rapture, make us more human.