Gird your loins: There’s a new moon rising and a hybrid solar eclipse happening tomorrow
With Mercury going into retrograde this weekend, there’s a whole lot of celestial action going on this April.
For those who may be otherwise unaware, there are four different varieties of solar eclipses: total, partial, hybrid, and annular. Tomorrow, we’re in for an incredibly rare celestial event that happens just a few times per century on average as the moon blocks out the sun during a hybrid solar eclipse, witnessable from Australia.
This type of eclipse shifts from total solar eclipse to annular, creating a ring-shape as the moon’s shadow moves across the surface of the Earth. A spectacle of this nature hasn’t occurred since 2013, and won’t happen again until 2031, which makes this quite the exciting time for skywatchers down under.
Let’s get technical for a second. The hybrid eclipse of the sun involves the dark shadow cone of the moon — which is called the umbra — sweep northeast at a distance that merely scrapes the Earth’s surface. Beginning as an annular, ring-shaped eclipse before the umbra completely hits the surface just for an instant, becomes a total eclipse as the umbra cuts into our planet, it then transitions back into an annular eclipse.
This only lasts for a couple of minutes before the shadow slides off the Earth’s surface entirely. Unfortunately, the point of greatest visibility happens to be in the middle of the Timor Sea, but it can also be seen in varying extents over parts of the Indian and Pacific oceans, all of Australia and Indonesia, a slice of Southeast Asia, the north half of New Zealand, and a portion of Antarctica.
Visible from the South Pacific, with the moon’s shadow passing over western Australia, East Timor and Indonesia, websites such as Space.com will be running a livestream that will bring the action to your screen. On the off chance that you are one of the many Irish living in Aus, consider this your reminder that you should never ever look at a solar eclipse directly. No one wants to be that guy (we’ve all seen that footage of Donald Trump, haven’t we?).
Though the actual phenomenon may only last for a few moments, its effects reverberate globally, and the cosmic climaxes are sure to be felt across the planet when coupled with the new moon in Aries and Mercury retrograde. Where new moons invite intention setting and mindfulness, a solar eclipse deals with cataclysmic shifts, abrupt endings, and stark changes. Which, let’s be real, aren’t always such bad things.
Given the astrological placement of the eclipse, we’re advised to let down the walls we’ve built around ourselves, lower our defences, and remain open to unexpected change. Coinciding with the new moon in Aries, this new phase signifies the point in the lunar cycle when the moon passes close to the sun and is swallowed by its light.
The new moon will rise at 05:12 on Thursday 20 April. The next celestial spectacle of 2023 will then take place on Friday 5 May in the form of the Full Flower Moon, which speaks to the blooming new life of the season.
As we face into the second Mercury retrograde of 2023, which — I hate to say it — is set to last until Sunday 14 May, all I can say is God speed.
Featured image via Evan Leith on Unsplash