Monday, November 3, 2014

Dyslexic Mercury

We saw Mercury at its greatest distance from the Sun this past Saturday morn (Nov 1) and it is still well behind it in the zodiac.  Or is it?  Isn’t that Mercury above the horizon while the Sun is waiting to show its big round self?      

Yes that is Mercury twinkling through dawn’s first light.  It is in the sign Libra which comes right before the sign Scorpio.  So who is ahead and who is behind?

Maybe the best way to think of the situation is to imagine watching a video of a horse race.   Not one of those high stakes deals, but a local competition filmed by friends of the jockeys.   For some reason they started at the back of the line when they took close ups of the racers.  So Dopey comes into view before Sleepy and then comes Pure T Lazy followed by Happy, and the last close up of all, leading the pack is Manic Molly. That's how we see the planets every night and sometimes during the day.  Earth is big and we are little fleas on its humped back.  We can only see so much of heaven at a time for the hump in the way.  That revolving hump is like the camera in front of the photographer's eye, focusing on one part of the view while obstructing the rest. 

Herd-riding in Iceland

Link to the article about this photo: Herd-riding in Iceland

In this paragraph the author of the article advances to the front of the herd:

 SUNDAY 1530
At a changeover, Edda asks if I’d like to ride with the wranglers. It requires a step-up in horsemanship skills but it’s an honour not to be refused. Up front it’s faster, more furious and intimidating.
We gallop ahead to keep in front of the herd, allow them to catch us up, then gallop forwards again, flying over a rock-strewn terrain that would surely trip up any other horse. All the while, the hooves of hundreds of horses stampede closely behind; you don’t want to end up under them.

Bringing up the Rear


But that’s horses.  We’re talking about planets.
 Above is a close up view for 5:30 am Raleigh, the yellow dot at 78w 36n.

 And below is a wider view for 6:30 am without the control window showing.

Below is 6:35, the same time as the Astrodienst chart at top. says they are not accurate and it is true, their purpose is to give a good visual representation of the solar system in real time.  This is one example where the image is pretty close to the accurate chart.

Unlike herds of horses coming down from the highlands, planets do not have heads or tails and they tend to just go around in circles.  This makes the observation of relative motion even more confusing.  For instance Mercury is only behind in the zodiac and rising before the Sun in the morning because it passed Earth last month.   That’s what it was doing when it was going backwards along the ecliptic. Confused yet? That's real time.

So let's stick with the herd of horses for another paragraph.  See those people stopped on their horses off to the side?  They are guides, and you can bet they are not at the back because they have trouble keeping up.  They are there to make sure every one is progressing.  If a rider or member of the herd is in distress the guides that hang back will be there to assist.  So that's one example of why someone at the back is only behind in a manner of speaking.  Sometimes responsible leaders have to bring up the rear for the sake of others. 

Of all the planets, Mercury the messenger does this the most, racing up to the front and then falling to the back.  And like I mentioned before (damn circles) a lot of times when it looks like it is falling to the back it is actually racing to the front.  Maybe someone has word at the back of an approaching storm; Mercury is the one to pass ahead of the pack and deliver the news.  Mercury seems to get away with a lot because of this.  The trickster seems to lack a sense of its place in the pecking order.

It is also hard to pin down.  It can go for months refusing to consider an intractable problem.  Like a little devil with its own agenda.  Then one day Bam, maybe when it is at its greatest elongation, rising in the dawn's early light, it starts churning away at the very puzzle it disragarded for weeks, taking time to examine and fit pieces together that it had no time for when it was at the front of the line.  Or was that the back of the line?  Who the hell knows when it comes to Mercury?