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The Sun is at its furthest and The Moon enters a new phase: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Earth achieves aphelion in its orbit on Friday, July 5, when it is furthest away from the Sun. The Moon comes to New phase that same day, at 6:59 pm EDT, inspiring thoughts about cosmic and social harmony.
Earth achieves aphelion in its orbit on Friday, July 5, when it is furthest away from the Sun. The Moon comes to New phase that same day, at 6:59 pm EDT, inspiring thoughts about cosmic and social harmony.

This week the Earth comes to its aphelion, the point on its orbital path where it is furthest away from the Sun. This happens Friday, the same day as the first New Moon of summer.

So here at the season’s beginning, what if we take the position that as inhabitants of the Earth in this particular solar system, we actually live within a harmonious and healthy social organism? This is easily evidenced by the rhythmic regularity of the planets and moons, in the ways they behave themselves relative to one another, and toward our star, the Sun.

Over the ages, the governing, celestial gods of the ancients eventually fell, making way for human ideas about the organizational workings of our planetary system. Nicholas Copernicus really changed up the game when he posited that the Earth was in motion around the Sun. But then Johannes Kepler restored the ancient idea of social harmony within the cosmos by realizing the planets move not in circles around the sun, but in ellipses. In fact, the terms aphelion and perihelion result from this and were first used by Kepler in his Mysterium Cosmigraphicum.

By moving in an ellipse a planet is sometimes closer and sometimes further away from the Sun. And herein lies the harmony, because Kepler realized that although the Earth’s distance from the Sun and its speed along its orbit are both variable, the area it covers while orbiting is constant. In other words, the Earth exhibits agency or self-directing forces, rather than just being tugged at by the gravity of the Sun. It’s such a picture, one that perhaps inspired E.E. Cummings when he wrote:

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart) 

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.