SEPTEMBER 2006 SKYWATCH
by Maya del Mar
Our main features in September are not the planets, which are mostly too close to the Sun to have much visibility.
Rather, Septembers three specials include (1) a huge Moon traveling along a low ecliptic, (2) two Eclipses, again with the involvement of Moon, and (3) an official change in the status of Pluto.
Several things combine to give us a very spectacular full moon this month. For one thing, Moon has its second-closest perigee of the year (closeness to Earth) at just about the time of the September 7 Full Moon. This makes it the biggest full moon of 2006. Coastal tides will also be the strongest of the year.
At the same time, the Moons orbit is also extra low this time of year. This keeps the Moon close to the horizon, and appearing very largethe Harvest Moon of autumn.
Also, the full moon around Equinox rises very little later than the night before, thus providing a string of long nights of moonlight. Many of us wont see the partial eclipse, but we can enjoy a spectacular Full Moon.
Observers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia may be able to see the partial lunar eclipse on the night of September 7, as Moon passes into Earths shadow. Usually one sees only a dimming, or yellowing, of the moonlight, but sometimes it is possible to see a bite out of the Moon. Eclipse time is 18:51 UT.
Jupiter is now low in the sunset sky, and will disappear from sight by the end of the month.
On the morning of September 22, sunrise will be very different for the coastal inhabitants of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana in northern South America. The annular Solar Eclipse begins there, and the eastern sky will be dramatic. There will be a combination of a bright ring around the darkened Sun, and a dimming of sunrise light.
Moon is at apogee today, meaning further from the earth, and it doesnt quite cover the circle of the Sunthus the annular eclipse.
This eclipse races across the south Atlantic, and ends up at sunset on Heard Island, close to Antarctica. It is partially visible to observers in Latin America, and in western and southern Africa.
Eclipse cycles are about 1200 years long. They begin and end in the polar regions, and I always wonder how their patterns relate to global weather.
Its interesting that the astronomers have this big focus on Plutos status at the same time that it is very active astrologically. Apparently the scientists have spent years working out a definition of a planet, and the International Astronomers Union, meeting in Prague, finally arrived at one on August 24. Pluto is not includedalthough Ceres, Charon Plutos moon, and Xena almost were.
Definitions are by nature arbitrary, and I cant get worked up about them. A strict following of the three criteria adopted for defining a planet would, in fact, eliminate all the planets in the solar system. Readers may notice that I sometimes call the four big asteroids planets. Well, at one time they were almost officially defined as planets, just as Ceres almost made it now. Is this the glass ceilingor perhaps the celestial ceiling?
But I canand doget worked up about timing, and the correspondence of life on earth with sky happenings.
August 24, when Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet, was the day that Pallas Athena turned direct at the beginning of Capricorn. (Recheck your August Daykeeper for the day of August 24, and the article on Pallas turning direct.) Pallas is great at taking charge, and in Capricorn, her focus is on the hierarchy and on tradition.
At this time, she conjoins Pluto in Late Sagittarius, who turns direct on September 4, providing a Labor Day Weekend of intense energy. Around the time when a planet (or dwarf planet or asteroid, or whatever) turns direct, its energy is extra strong. This applies to both Pallas and Pluto during August and September.
At this time, Pluto is squaring (stimulating) these fateful Moons Nodes, which are places which show intakes and releases of energy on a worldwide scale. With North Node in Pisces, we absorb spiritual energy; with South Node in Virgo we release that spiritual energy in practical form. This all occurs at a deep and unconscious level; thus the Nodes are often considered fateful. The Nodes are also the signs of the Eclipses, which catalyze changes which might also be considered fateful. The square from Pluto means that this Pisces-Virgo polarity is going through intense transformation now, especially during the month of September. In effect, it can be a time of rebirth of spiritual energy.
Themes for meditation can be the relationship between Pallas Athena and Pluto, the metaphorical significance of Pluto being cut down to size, and the significance of Pluto at the Galactic Center.