On Monday, August 21, a shadow will stretch across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun for a few brief moments. It's a big deal: It is the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States in nearly 40 years, and the first to cross the entire country in nearly a century.
According to astronomers and eclipse chasers, witnessing the eclipse from the path of totality—a 70-mile-wide band in which the moon will entirely obscure the sun—is a truly spectacular event. In Seattle, where we will see a 92 percent eclipse, the views will be good; in Central Oregon, the closest point of totality, the views—and the traffic jams—will be epic. The sky will darken, the air will cool, and for just about two minutes, you'll be able to see the sun's atmosphere from earth. An estimated 7.4 million Americans are predicted to make the pilgrimage to prime viewing spots to see it.
President Donald Trump, who likes to spend Mondays (and every other day) on the golf course, isn't likely to be among those traveling to the show. He'll probably be DMing David Duke from the 18th hole. But that doesn't mean the show will miss him—at least, that is, if you believe in astrology.
If the eclipse is a big deal in the astronomical world, it's just as big a deal in the astrological one. Astrologers have long connected eclipses and other celestial happenings to events that take place here on earth. On her website, Virgo astrologer Marjorie Orr notes that several history-altering events have occurred near eclipses, including the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, and the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
Is this a coincidence? Science says yes. When researchers have tested astrology, it's never been found to be accurate. One double-blind study, published in the journal Nature in 1985, asked 28 highly regarded astrologers to match astrological charts to psychological profiles, and—surprise—they were no more accurate than random chance. Other studies have replicated this. As NASA put it last year, "No one has shown that astrology can be used to predict the future or describe what people are like based on their birth dates."
And yet, it persists. "There is a long history of people prescribing personal and political significance to astronomical events—eclipses in particular," said Julianne Dalcanton, an astrophysicist at the University of Washington. "It's a proud human tradition throughout the world and throughout time." Dalcanton said that she is a firm supporter of humanity's search for meaning in the world, but, she added, "is there a physical mechanism by which these astronomical events have a direct, measurable influence on the planet? Not that we know of." In other words, it's bullshit.
But that doesn't mean that believing in astrology doesn't have real-life consequences: In the 1920s, astrology was used to predict stock-market highs and lows. In the 1980s, Ronald and Nancy Reagan employed an astrologer in the White House. In the mid 2000s, a girlfriend broke up with me because our signs weren't compatible (which, in retrospect, was true: We weren't compatible—she believed in astrology and I did not). In 2014, a poll found that up to 45 percent of Americans believe that astrology is an actual science—and that number is on the rise. The White House didn't respond when I contacted them to find out if 45 is a part of that 45 percent, but considering that Roger Stone, Trump's close friend and adviser, believes that the moon landing was filmed in a New Jersey warehouse, it doesn't seem all that far-fetched.
Whether or not Trump believes, some astrologers are predicting big things for him during this eclipse anyway.
"Even though he's a Gemini, Trump's ascending sign is in Leo, and he has a very strong Leo personality," said Seattle astrologer Pam Younghans, who has been practicing for 25 years. And because the eclipse falls between the 28th and 29th degrees of Leo, whatever that means, Trump could be especially affected by it.
No one, of course, knows what will happen to Herr Trump during the eclipse, but Rob Brezsny, author of The Stranger's Free Will Astrology column, said there could be a death of some sort—though not, unfortunately, a literal one.
"I don't like to make absolute predictions, but this could result in an ego death," Brezsny told me. "In a normal person, that could be a good thing, because it would relieve that person of illusions and delusions that he has about himself. But in Trump's case, there could be a shattering." The kind of man who reads a folder of positive reviews about himself twice a day doesn't seem all that susceptible to an ego shattering, but, Brezsny added, "anyone else who is ridiculed as much as Trump is would probably have gone insane by now. The eclipse may portend a climax to the humiliation."
"There's nothing stronger than an eclipse," said Susan Miller, the astrologer behind the immensely popular website Astrology Zone. Miller agrees with Brezsny that the eclipse may bring a scandal to light but, still, she thinks Trump may not be that affected. "Everything rolls off him," she said. "But there could be some health issues that arise. His doctor may give him a stern warning not to eat any chocolate cake and to start working out or meditating. Although he doesn't seem the type."
Famed astrologer Chani Nicholas also thinks the eclipse portends something big happening in Trump's life. "We might not know exactly what during the time of the eclipse," she said, "but I would put money on the fact that this is an incredibly important moment in his personal life and his presidency. Maybe six months to two years from now, we will look back and see that something significant happened at this moment."
If we're lucky, whatever shift Trump undergoes will be an improvement and not the start of a nuclear holocaust. Or a race war.
As for the rest of us, Seattle astrologer Younghans said that the weeks leading up to the solar eclipse are an opportune time to let go of bad habits and behaviors. "On a personal level," she told me, "it's a good time to do some clearing away. We don't want to carry any of this crap into the future."
Regardless of whether you believe that what happens in the sky influences life down on earth, if you are in Seattle, get some eclipse glasses and look toward the sky on Monday at 10:20 a.m., the precise moment the moon's shadow will pass overhead. Astrology—and the president—may be unpredictable, but astronomy? At least we can count on that.
To find out the astrological signs of other horrible people, click here.