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Astronomical Agility at Equinox: this week on Storyteller's Night Sky

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Mercury is not visible to us at inferior conjunction with the Sun, but will soon emerge in the morning sky. Note that the conjunction occurs this week just a few hours after Equinox.

This will be a week of our needing agility, on an astronomical scale, and here’s why:

On Thursday, Earth and Sun come to what I’ll call a place of mutuality in their relationship, known technically as the Autumn Equinox, when the forces of day and night are balanced. This will happen at 9:04 pm Thursday, September 22nd.

Then, a few hours later, the planet Mercury, associated with the ancient trickster god, known as the prince of thieves and the escort of souls, slips into the place of balance and equilibrium established between Earth and Sun, as if to test the relationship for its flexibility and mobility.

Right now, Mercury is making one of its retrograde loops, as though it’s moving backward in its path. The peak of the retrograde comes when it lines up between Earth and Sun; this is called inferior conjunction. And it’s pretty remarkable that Mercury is doing this so close to the moment of Equinox ~ it’s like Mercury is testing us to see whether we really know what it means to achieve equilibrium and balance, which is a state of engaged stillness and continual harmonizing.

Some of the poems where I find this expressed include Wendell Berry’s beautiful images of resting in the peace of wild things; or TS Eliot’s from his 4 Quartets, when he writes about how “the darkness shall the light and the stillness, the dancing.”

But probably the most remarkable contemplation that speaks to me about this Equinox moment with Mercury at retrograde conjunction comes from Rudolf Steiner, when he observes that “The great things of the world are not born in noise and tumult, but in intimacy and stillness.”

Mary Stewart Adams is a Star Lore Historian and host of “The Storyteller’s Night Sky.” As a global advocate for starry skies, Mary led the team that established the 9th International Dark Sky Park in the world in 2011, which later led to her home state of Michigan protecting 35,000 acres of state land for its natural darkness.