May 17, 2020 – Conjunctionitis…not

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, frequently called “pink eye”.  Conjunctionitis (my word) is the inflammatory message sent to scare people that the next “super conjunction” will cause a major catastrophe on Earth.  I give those folks the “snake-eye”.

We have been blessed of late.  Our early morning sky has a Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, with Mars to their east – it’s been going on for over a month and will continue for a while.  Next up, Venus and Mercury together in the evening sky.  And the Moon… when the Moon gets in the act it just makes these conjunctions spectacular!

A conjunction occurs when two or more celestial objects, even spacecraft, appear to be close in the same area of sky relative to the viewer.

Conjunctions have different meanings in astrology depending on the objects involved.  They can get a bad rap however by those who focus on ‘bad omens’ or just want to profit from the hype.

The implied significance of conjunctions developed from practitioners of astrology in ancient Babylonia.  They “read” celestial events such as planetary movements within certain constellations and relative to the Sun or Moon.  They also interpreted these events, making predictions of good or bad events.  The conjunction of Venus and a crescent Moon was especially significant, a particularly good omen.

Conjunctions are events that make you sit up and notice the sky, because when they involve planets and the Moon, they make a bright shining spectacle.  Sometimes the spectacle is so impressive law enforcement gets a bunch of calls claiming UFO sightings.

Conjunctions come in categories, kind of like flavors.  Let’s taste.

Inferior or superior conjunction:  Mercury and Venus can each be at inferior or superior conjunction due to their orbits being closer to the Sun than Earth’s.  Each is between Earth and the Sun during an inferior conjunction and the Sun is between during a superior conjunction.  Either way they cannot be seen during their conjunctions.

Conjunction is the general term for objects that appear in the same part of the sky.  They will be lost in the Sun’s glare if in conjunction with the Sun.  A Moon-Sun conjunction is called a New Moon when the Moon is between Earth and Sun, or Full Moon when at opposition (Earth is between Sun and Moon).

Syzgy:  When three or more objects are is a straight-line formation.  What a cool sight!

Occultation, Transit, Eclipse:  These all refer to a conjunction where one object passes in front of another from our perspective.  Occultation means one object completely obscures the other (for example the Moon occulting a planet or star).  Transit means a smaller appearing object passing in front of the larger (the recent Mercury-Sun transit).  Eclipse is an occultation of the Sun by the Moon (solar eclipse) or Earth (lunar eclipse).

What’s in the Sky?

May 21; 30 minutes after sunset; west-northwest:  See a conjunction of Venus and Mercury low in the sky!