With the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, they now say the magnetic center is moving to Chile
How about watching a total solar eclipse from the world’s geomagnetic center?
Aside from having one of the most impressive night skies in the world, Chile’s Elqui Valley is reckoned by some to contain nothing less than the geomagnetic center of the planet.
During the Age of Pisces, astrologers pinned Earth’s magnetic center in Tibet in the Himalayas, but with the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, they now say the magnetic center is moving to Chile.
Who cares what astrologers think? Not many, but in 1982 scientists with satellites pin-pointed Earth’s greatest point of energy in Chile’s Elqui Valley. More precisely, in Cochiguaz, which means ‘water house’ in the local Quechua language.
When is Totality at Cochiguaz?
July 2, 2019 at 16:38pm (2 minutes 21 seconds)
Why does any of this make Cochiguaz an ideal place to watch a Total Solar Eclipse? Well, the eclipse as a celestial phenomenon is pure syzygy (pronounced ‘siz-er-jee’).
What is Syzygy?
Syzygy doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but this usually obscure astronomical terminology briefly comes back into use during Total Solar Eclipses. Syzygy is not a technically difficult concept to understand. “Syzrgy is when the Earth, Moon and Sun line-up,” says NASA Ambassador Eddie Mahoney, the Director of Astronomy and host of Tour of the Stars at the Hyatt Regency Maui in Hawaii.
A Total Eclipse of the Sun can only happen at New Moon, something that occurs every 28 days (or so) as the Moon completes one orbit of Earth. At that point, the moon is precisely between the Sun and the Earth. It doesn’t always line up exactly, because the Moon follows an elliptical orbit of Earth.
If it did, there would be a solar eclipse every month. Sadly, that’s not the case but don’t feel too aggrieved – that eclipses happen at all is by pure coincidence; the Sun is 400 times bigger than the Moon, but also 400 times further away. Hence, eclipses are mathematically possible.
The moment of Total Solar Eclipse is pure syzygy, but the term is also used to describe other celestial lineups, such as transits, occultations and planetary line-ups in Earth’s night sky. Another famous example of syzygy is a Total Lunar Eclipse, when the Full Moon is on the other side of Earth.
There’s nothing specific to see during syzygy aside from the effects of viewing an eclipse – chiefly, Totality – but if you think about what is happening, it’s mind-blowing stuff. When you watch a total solar eclipse you are watching nothing less than our corner of the solar system in perfect alignment, right in front of your eyes. “Although there no measurable gravitational effect, there is certainly an effect – it’s inspirational,” says Mahoney.
However, syzygy does have a physical effect on Earth’s oceans; high tides follow every Earth-Moon-Sun alignment. Luckily, Cochiguaz in Chile is about 100km inland, so you should keep your feet dry.
What is the Age of Aquarius?
Ever heard the expression the Age of Aquarius? It will follow the present Age of Pisces and it’s an astrological – and not an astronomical – term that merely relates to where the Sun is during the vernal equinox. Astrologers maintain that an astrological age is a product of the earth’s slow precessional rotation and lasts for 2,160 years, on average (26,000-year period of precession + 12 zodiac signs = 2,160 years).
After a couple of Millenia of the Sun being in the constellation of Pisces during late March, it’s now creeping towards the constellation of Aquarius. Astrologers use this to determine a defined astrological age, but what it really teaches us about is Earth’s own precession (a change in the orientation of the rotational axis of Earth). So the Sun’s apparent drift in Aquarius on this one day – and only from Earth’s point of view – is inevitable, though talk of a supposed Age of Aquarius is rather premature; the official boundaries of the constellations means it will take around 500 years before it begins. However, some astrologers claim the Age of Pisces ended with the great cosmic alignment of 21 December 2012 – the 2012 Phenomenon – thus beginning the Age of Aquarius. Superstitious nonsense or sound astronomical knowledge? You decide; eclipse-chasing is a broad church indeed.
Image credit: Visit Chile – the Cochiguaz Valley