March 2012 is proving to be a celestially active month! Not only did we get solar flares last week (which made the Aurora Borealis visible to more people), we also get a planetary conjunction this week. How cool is that?! Venus and Jupiter were tightly snuggled earlier this week, but they remain close and bright for most of March, making for a luminous western night sky. With Mars lighting up the eastern sky, this is a wonderful month to spend time with a telescope or at an observatory! A recent article on MSNBC.com summed up this Venus-Jupiter conjunction nicely:
“This year’s [conjunction] was especially stunning, experts say, because the two planets were visible for so long in the sky and appeared so bright. Though Jupiter is about 11 times wider than the roughly Earth-size Venus, Venus appears about eight times more luminous… That’s because Venus is so much closer to us than Jupiter is. …while the two planets appear close together in the night sky, in reality they’re nowhere near each other.”
Like all celestial happenings, planetary conjunctions have scientific and spiritual value. Venus and Jupiter align about every 13 months, so their coupling is not unusual. Conjunctions are not rare events in general. Venus was just aligned with Uranus in February. Neither are conjunctions ominous or “doomsday” events.* My eyes are drawn skyward because I love starry nights and because I love astronomy.** This conjunction is but one stop for Jupiter on its long journey across the cosmos. Right now, Jupiter is moving west to east, from the Pisces to the Aries constellation. Venus is moving in the same direction, but at a steeper slope (and so she moves faster than him). Venus spins around Sol in about seven and a half months. Jupiter likes to slow dance and takes just under 12 years. I ❤ my solar system!***
While I have an interest in astrology, it is not an integral part of my spiritual practice. But I am intrigued by the symbolic interpretations of conjunctions. There are variety of astrological interpretations of the planets in this week’s conjunction because of the symbolic meanings associated with the coupled planets Venus and Jupiter. In general:
Venus → love
Jupiter → luck
Hmm…maybe some of you will be lucky in love this week! Wouldn’t that be nice? If you are already lucky in love, maybe you should take time this week to show special appreciation your honey. *wink* Or let them show special appreciation for you! *wink grin*
I also think it’s neat the symbol for Venus is thought to represent a hand mirror. This is apropos since Venus is considered Earth’s sister planet. Earth and Venus are about the same size and are (relative to other planets) about the same distance from the sun. Give it up for these Sol(ar) Sistahs!
Whatever your thoughts on astronomy or astrology, this month offers a beautiful night sky to the western hemisphere. So get outside tonight and “Oooohhhh” and “Aaaaahhhh” at the heavens!
* Indeed, they have been associated with more wonderful than tragic historic. In this article, the author argues the Neptune-Pluto conjunction, which occurs about every 500 years, is harbinger of social and cultural renewal. “…about 100 years after the conjunction, a great renaissance occurs that ushers in a new age.” Examples include the conjunction of 577 BC, which preceded the golden age of Greece and the conjunction of 1399, which preceded high Renaissance. I am not convinced there is a causal link between the Neptune-Pluto conjunction and social, cultural prosperity, hey — this is still a neat idea. =)
** And I have a huge crush on Neil DeGrasse Tyson. May he live long and prosper. He attended Jax and my alma mater, UT Austin, for his master’s degree. He might have finished his Ph.D. training there, too, but he wasn’t happy in UT’s astronomy department so left for Columbia University.
*** Look for another celestial post in May, when we will have another Supermoon! [Warning this link is to a video that will automatically play.]
+ Featured image, “In the night sky over ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) observatory at Paranal, the Moon shines along with two bright companions : already aloft in the heavens and glowing in the centre of the image is Venus, Earth’s closest planetary neighbour, and, to its right, the giant, though more distant planet, Jupiter.” Photo taken December 3, 2009.