Star­walks: Saturn in the Bal­ance

Catron Courier - - News - By Thea Mar­shall

Spica and Mars are eas­ily seen in the east around 7:30 PM by March 27. This beau­ti­ful bril­liant pair is made more so as Mars, be­ing in ret­ro­grade mo­tion is brighter than usual. Think of ret­ro­grade mo­tion as be­ing on one train as it pulls out of the sta­tion while the train be­side it stands still and ap­pears to move back­wards. Mars, be­ing fur­ther out in the so­lar sys­tem is slower than Earth and cur­rently the Earth, in its or­bit is, pass­ing Mars.

At four AM on March 27 the wan­ing cres­cent of the old moon will rise be­side the bril­liant planet Venus in its Morn­ing Star phase, re­peat­ing on April 26. The an­cient Chaldeans wove these astro­nom­i­cal phe­nom­ena into their myth of Inanna and her visit to the un­der­world where at each ‘Moon Gate’ the god­dess had to give up some­thing. There are seven con­junc­tions be­fore Venus dis­ap­pears into the sun’s rays, emerg­ing about six weeks later as the Evening Star. Inanna gets back what she has given up with each con­junc­tion with the New Moon!

Saturn will also be vis­i­ble in the East in the early evening sky among the stars of the Bal­ance, the con­stel­la­tion that fol­lows the Vir­gin. The full moon of April 15 will shine along­side Spica, with Mars slightly above it and Saturn fol­low­ing. On tax day, Saturn, who rules money and de­cides what is due, is in the stars of the Scales, and Moon, Mars with the Wheat Sheaf is a sly cos­mic joke.

A cur­rent res­i­dent in Pie Town, Thea Mar­shall has lived in NM for 34 years, and en­joys writ­ing, her horse, and the stars

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