Many days in our calendar mark significant events and holidays, many are very common such as Easter, a new moon, the start of spring. But the 20th of March is going to be an exciting one and here’s why.
Not only is this the date of the March Equinox this only happens twice a year, once in March and the other in September where the day and night are nearly of equal length. If that wasn’t exciting enough then it’s also a full moon but not just a normal full moon, it’s a Supermoon. This is where the moon is at its closest to the Earth whilst being full and can look most spectacular!
However we haven’t even gotten start yet. There’s a wonderful astrological event happening this day as well and that’s a solar eclipse. So not only will you have the joys of seeing the moon in all its full and large glory you’ll also get to experience this wondrous event.
How Does a Solar Eclipse Happen?
The UK is expected to see around a 90% blackout of the sun with some areas of Scotland seeing around 94%! A solar eclipse is when the moon moves directly between the Sun and the Earth. It’s unusual because the Earth, Sun and the Moon all have to align.
It also rare because of the elliptical (oval) shape of the Moon’s path, or orbit, around the Earth, meaning the Moon is sometimes further away from us. Additionally the Moon’s orbit is on a tilt, making it even rarer when the Sun, Moon and Earth align.
What Does It Mean?
For some this doesn’t mean much and they may go on about their day as normal but for many they will feel shifts and changes in energy. This will also be caused by the supermoon and the Equinox. And for many they will want to make an occasion of it! Many are planning parties as well!
The last full solar eclipse was back in 1999 (does anyone remember that one? I do!), this one on the 20th will only be a partial one but it’s still going to be pretty impressive and be a day to remember.
Do note that the next UK partial eclipse won’t be until 2026 and the next full one isn’t until 2090! So you may want to be on the lookout for this one. It’s going to be a morning one so many may catch it as they go to work or have their first break of the day.
8.45AM – The eclipse will start
9.31AM – The eclipse will be at its peak or maximum
10.41AM – Everything will be back to normal.
The further North you are the better it will be. If you’re on the South coast then the coverage may only get to 85%. However all can experience it and all you need is a clear view of the horizon.
Remember to keep safe and that looking directly at the sun, even during an eclipse can damage your eyes, you can get special eclipse glasses to filter the sun which are available online cheaply.
Myths, Legends and Traditions
Like many astronomical events a solar eclipse has many a tale spun around it and also some interesting traditions as follows:
*A common myth still believed in some cultures says a pregnant woman should stay indoors during an eclipse, lest her child be born blind
*Some parts of Asia see people thinking food cooked during an eclipse become poisonous or impure
*A Viking fable tells of the wolf Skoll chasing the god of the sun Sol so when an eclipse happened people would bang pots and pans to chase off the wolf and get the sun back!
*The ancient Greeks though an eclipse was a sign from the Gods that they were angry and bad things were going to happen. The word eclipse actually comes from the Greek ekleipsis which meant being abandoned.
*And of course last but not least some used to think it marked the end of the world.
I can, of course, attest that’s not the case after seeing the 1999 full eclipse and living to tell the tale!