Saturday, January 6, 2018

Jupiter Mars Conjunction

At 0448 CST, I caught the near conjunction of Jupiter and Mars with my 70 mm (2-3/4 inch) National Geographic refractor. Mars will pass to the east of Jupiter tomorrow morning, but we have clouds here. In fact, I was lucky to see it, as by 0510, the east was entirely obscured.

It looked something like this.
(East to the left.)
I know from reading astrology books that fortune tellers care a lot about nice round numbers like 90, 60, and 30 degrees. Squares and equilateral triangles of planets are noteworthy events that mark potentials in your life. Or so they say. But why do they not care about 57.3 degrees, one radian, 180 degrees divided by pi? (Closer to 57.295779513082321, depending on your value for pi.) 

And why do we care about conjunctions? 

Yes, when the Moon passes in front of a planet or star, you might be able to learn something about the geography (selenography) of the Moon or something very subtle about its very tenuous atmosphere. But mostly, conjunctions are only arbitrarily noteworthy. Will I never again bundle up to go out at some ungodly hour? Hard to say...


1 comment:

  1. I wonder if it's that they mark the passage of time in a way that doesn't rest on human constructs. It reminds me of other once-in-a-life-time opportunities in work and life. Even something you don't really want sounds valuable when it's once-in-a-lifetime. Maybe it's because it underscores that life is finite. Many religions say there's another life and there's a final arbiter of right and wrong. I wonder if we like these celestial events because even religious people know reality exists and is best understood through human reason.

    I guess I'm wondering if most people at heart are humanists like me. Religious believers probably take the other side of this conceit and say everyone at heart follows their religion.


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