Solar and Lunar Eclipses occur in a regular pattern. They show up approximately every 6-7 months. An Eclipse is a New Moon or Full Moon that appears within 18 degrees of one of the Moon’s Nodes.
To understand their astrological significance, we first need to understand some basics of the Lunar cycle.
The New Moon is the beginning of the waxing phase of the Lunar cycle, or the two weeks when the Moon increases in light. We can use the energy of the increasing light of the Moon to plant seeds of intention and will. We start new projects and plans, buy new things, make new contacts. Farmers use this time to plant above-ground crops.
The Full Moon is the culmination of the Moon’s cycle, and the beginning of the waning phase. During the two weeks following the Full Moon, the Moon decreases in light. This is a good period for working on ourselves, finalizing things, processing information, wrapping up, and letting go of the things we don’t need anymore. This is a time for progress toward the inner, rather than outer, realm.
A Solar Eclipse is a very special New Moon. Projects you start between the eclipse and the next Full Moon (about 2 weeks), take on added significance 6 months down the road. This applies to the seeds you plant, projects you undertake, contacts you make, and intentions you set. Solar Eclipses represent issues and situations that come to you from the “outside,” from other people or circumstances in your world.
A Lunar Eclipse is a very special Full Moon. Decisions, events efforts, and matters you finish during this waning cycle have significance in the future. It also powers up the process of releasing something from deep within you. In contrast to Solar Eclipses, which represent matters that come from the world “outside,” Lunar Eclipses represent those changes and situations that bubble up from within.
Full Moons in general, and Lunar eclipses in particular, are times of high emotion. The Full Moon brings activity and awareness, full illumination of the emotional realm. The Sun and the Moon, your ego and your emotions, are on opposite sides of the sky– as if the other were a mirror.
The apparent path of the Sun and planets around the Earth (called the Ecliptic) and the Moon’s orbit around the earth are not parallel to one another. If you were to represent them using two hula hoops, you would cross them over in the middle, like this. (The angle is exaggerated here for effect.) The two paths intersect in two places. These points are called the Moon’s Nodes.
An Eclipse is a New or Full Moon that occurs near the Moon’s Nodes. Because the Moon and Sun are so close to the Nodes, they are aligned perfectly enough with the Earth to cast a shadow.
During a Solar eclipse, the Moon casts a shadow on the Earth. During a Lunar Eclipse, the Earth casts a shadow on the Moon.
NASA: Fred Espenak’s Eclipse page
Lots of good astronomical information, including where the eclipses will be visible and the exact times.