Monday, 21 March 2011

Understanding Equinoxes and Solstices

Equinoxes occur twice a year when the is sun crossing directly over the Earth’s equator (into the other hemisphere) and a solstice, also twice a year, is when the Sun reaches its most northern and southern extremes which are marked by the Tropic of Cancer (in the north) and the Tropic of Capricorn (in the south). These tropics are imaginary lines of latitude around the earth and are about 23 degrees north and south of the equator.

On the dates of the equinoxes, day and night are equal in length.

* The Spring (or vernal) equinox falls on or around 21st March which is when the Sun moves into Aries and marks the beginning of Spring. The Sun crosses the equator into the northern hemisphere and brings the summer months.
* The Summer solstice falls around the 21st June when the Sun moves into Cancer and marks the beginning of Summer.
* The Autumn equinox is around the 23rd September when the Sun moves into Libra and marks the beginning of Autumn. The sun crosses the equator and moves into the southern hemisphere giving the summer months and leaving the northern hemisphere to the Winter.
* The Winter solstice is on or around the 21st December when the sun enters Capricorn and marks the beginning of Winter.

Note that these zodiac signs are all cardinal signs and indicate the beginning of the seasons, the fixed signs are in the middle of each season and the mutable signs are at the end and getting ready for the change into the next season.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Spring Equinox 2011

The Spring Equinox is the point of balance of the waxing year when night and day are of equal length and there is tension between the relectiveness of the dark winter period and the activity of new growth rushing headlong toward Midsummer. It is also the festival of Oestre, the Goddess of Light who brings fertility and whose name is the origin of Easter and words like oestrogen, the hormone stimulating ovulation and fertility. It is appropriate that this season is celebrated with eggs.

The dancing hare foretells the spring,
With the fertility and new life this time does bring,
Gay Eoestre dances on the earth,
As seeds and flowers come to birth.

Tulips and daffodils come into bloom,
And life sprouts from the Earth Mother's womb,
Chickens lay their eggs now the light is growing,
Catkins and blossoms on the trees are showing.

The Sun reaches forth with his hand,
To the Maiden of Flowers returned to the land,
Their dance brings new balance into our life,
Planting the seeds to overcome strife.

We grow with the flowers and the trees,
Winter's gloom banished on a spring breeze.
The joy of new birth enters our hearts,
As we look forward to Beltane's love.

Perigee Full Moon 20th March 2011

We’ve all heard so much about the biggest and closest moon this weekend but what does this really mean?

The 2011 full moon in March is on the same day as perigee which is the moon’s closest point to Earth for this month. The Moon’s orbit is elliptical and not circular so perigee and apogee (furthest away) happens every month but this perigee happens to be one of the closest encounters and the Moon won’t come this close again until 14th November 2016.

Most people know that the Moon is responsible for the tides in the seas and oceans and full moons bring higher (and lower) than usual tides. This is because the Moon and the Sun are lined up on opposite sides of the Earth so the gravitational pull on the large bodies of water is the greatest. Perigee full moons can bring even slightly higher and lower tides.

So this “Super Moon” isn’t really bigger although it may appear slightly larger in the sky (14% bigger) particularly when rising and setting on the horizon and it certainly isn’t responsible for any earthquakes.