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Sun, Moon and Earth

33 32 Solar eclIPSeS the SaroS the 18 year cycle of eclipses There are three types of solar eclipse partial, annular and total see frontispiece illustration. These are produced by variations in orbital distances and lunar nodal offset at syzygy, the barely pronounceable term for a full or new moon Sun, Moon and Earth in line. All eclipses belong to families, consecutive individuals of which display similar characteristics. The most famous of these is the Saros cycle, of 18 years and 11.32 days, which is 223 lunations, 19 eclipse years or 6585.322 days. The cycle was known to the Chaldeans and used to predict eclipses before 2000 BC. A Saros cycle evolves and decays, producing 1300 years of solar and 800 years of lunar eclipses. At any given time about 42 solar and 27 lunar eclipse families are evolving, each delivering about 70 and 45 individuals respectively over its lifetime. The fractional 0.322 day means that successive members will occur 8 hours later, every third eclipse in the family taking place at the same time of day. Another eclipse family takes 358 lunations and runs for 15,000 years. The Saros is 19 eclipse years, which may be accurately expressed as 19 x 18.618 x 18.618 days to 99.99. Now an eclipse year is 11.74 lunations and here Sun Moon 19 11.74 1.6186, the Divine Proportion. Harmoniously, 19 lunations is also phi eclipse years During totality small bursts of light, Baileys Beads, can appear through valleys on the Moon. The Suns corona and some solar flares may also be visible. The sequence of a total solar eclipse. Knowing when and where an eclipse will occur represents the consummate skill of an astronomer.
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