from The Magic School Bus:
Lost in the Solar System
written by Joanna Cole
illustrated by Bruce Degen
I was 16 years old in 1968, the year the Rock Musical Hair opened on Broadway and ignited the Age of Aquarius. Peace, it predicted, would guide the planets, and love would steer the stars. It would be a time of harmony and understanding. Sympathy and trust would abound. No more falsehoods or derision. Living dreams of golden visions and mystic crystal revelations would fill the earth. And the mind’s true liberation would be cause for celebration.
Some lyrical interpretation makes a better narrative, but the gist is still here, even though we’re all still waiting for those predictions to come true. Seems like planetary alignment is more important to poets and astrologers than it is to astronomers and cosmic science in general.
But dreaming is important, even crucial to being alive in this time fraught with fear of so much that is out of our control. And real danger, too.
All month astrology and astronomy are traveling companions, of a sort. Five major planets are aligned in the early morning sky. They have been visible without a telescope for most of this past month (June) and Friday (6/24/22), if the clouds stay away, will be the best day to look for them. About 45 minutes before dawn look toward the eastern horizon. At south-south east you’ll find Mercury pretty low in the sky. A little higher and about due east you’ll find Venus. A crescent moon comes next. Then look a little higher still and a little farther south. You’ll see Mars. Past Mars, Jupiter appears due southeast (is that a thing?) and higher still. Finally continue turning till you’re due south. You should be able to see Saturn a little lower in the sky than Jupiter. Here's a link to an article from Sky and Telescope. Scroll down till you see the skymap.
Sunrise occurs at 5:51 here in my part of Ohio, so I’ll need to be in my backyard by dawn, about 5:00. The birds start singing good morning, calling each other to my birdfeeder around 5:30, so it will dark and quiet. Trees clutter up my horizon. I'll need to take a short drive across the street to the country!
Our sister planets all orbit the sun in similar orbits so being able to observe a conjunction (two or three planets close together) is fairly common. Seeing these five, though, especially in their order of distance from the sun, is pretty rare. According to astronomers, the planets won’t line up again like this until August, 2040.
Robert Fitzgerald, a prominent British astrologer says astrological ages shift about every 2,160 years. He says in The Astronomical Journal (02/06/16), we are at the edge of the Age of Pisces and about to enter the Age of Aquarius. We’ll be moving into an era of “genius and science, revolution, brotherhood, utopian ideals, immortality, and world culture.”
Okay, I’ll keep waiting, but I’m not as patient as I was when I was 16.
Be curious! (and work toward the Age of Aquarius)