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Planets and Civilizations 30/04/2016

Posted by zoidion in Climate, Event, History, Mundane, Photography.
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Twin Cities ephemera: Much of the garden is in the ground — at least in the form of seeds — even though the average last-frost date is still a week away. Even at sunup (yay!) yesterday, as I set out to explore and photograph along the Mississippi, there was visible frost on some roofs and an invisible slick coating on our deck.

IMG_5579

(Can you spot the fourth-quarter Moon? Hint: The tree leaning right is pointing to it.)

And in the past week the weather has at last met expectations for the season: overall cool and wet. 

Yes, I am well aware of reports of ongoing global warming trends, but that doesn’t mean warmer weather everywhere all the time. That’s why I abhor the term “global warming,” preferring instead “climate disruption.” (Here’s a state-by-state summary of preparedness for its effects.)  

The backyard precipitation gauge this past week recorded very nearly three inches of rain over a five-day siege. I watched the soil temperature gauge drop by almost ten degrees during that spell.

There has been enough intermittent warmth to bring out many blossoms on the cherry and one of the pear trees, and a few on the lilac bush. Ah, spring.

Among the good news: A second water barrel with a hose to distribute the overflow is now in place. It used to be in what used to be the community garden: the small triangle of land, formerly county-owned, that was bought last fall by the owner of the adjacent storage building. The couple who contributed it didn’t want it back; in fact, he made a strange comment to me, that around here we don’t need to be concerned about having enough rainfall. Short memory, I guess.

I also put in some serious labor, digging out a lot of creeping charlie (alias ground ivy, alias gill-over-the-ground, alias field balm; Glecoma hederacea). It got well established in the area occupied by the big elm tree, until 2012. But it’s time for something else: nitrogen-fixing white clover.

Putting onion sets (young onion plants) into the soil brought to mind a mystery — eventually solved — that occurred a few years ago about this time. The period had been about as wet as this week has been. Near the beginning of that wet spell, I’d put the onions in the ground, only to find, next morning, many of the plants flat on the ground — though with no evidence of having been chewed. I put them back in their places, only to find many back on the ground again . . . and again. What the . . . ? 

At last the idea came to stand watch at dusk, flashlight in hand. Before long, a peculiar squishy sound was coming from that area. The flashlight’s beam revealed a veritable convention of earthworms writhing (mating??), and it was evident that many had reached the surface by following the holes in which the onions were sitting: It seemed the worms were in effect pushing the onions out of the ground. Weird.

An occasional area of climate research — volcanic events — has led to a couple of particularly vivid books: Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World, David Keys,1999; and Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World, Alexandra Witze & Jeff Kanipe, 2014.

And they lead of course into intriguing astrological investigations, and questions of prospects for any such events in the foreseeable future.

The first details historical evidence of civilizational collapses — including the Roman and Chinese empires — that followed a vast explosion that the author has narrowed down to February 535 and probably to the region between the islands of Sumatra and Java (modern Indonesia). The major planetary configuration of that year was the rare opposition of Saturn and Uranus to Neptune — the three biggest planets in our solar system after Jupiter. In addition, the Full Moon of that month was closely aligned with all three planets.

That was a lot of gravitational force, a great tug of war. No wonder Earth exploded.

Bandung eruption 535

Mr. Keys summarizes the fallout:

Key aspects of change, while ultimately triggered by a force of nature, were finally delivered through a plethora of consequent ecological, political, epidemiological, economic, religious, demographic and other mechanisms that interacted with each other for up to a hundred event-filled years before producing final, irreversible change.

Whew! It seems fortunate that such events (and overlapping indicative if not causative planetary cycles) are rare.

The event detailed in Witze and Kanipe’s book — the eruption of Laki in Iceland in 1783 — produced great misery on the island and across much of Europe, but not worldwide. Even so, the effects likely contributed to notable political instability, most famously the French Revolution. Again, the Saturn-Uranus cycle was “active”: the opposition phase, thus with Earth in between. But Jupiter (the largest planet) was only twenty-one degrees away from Saturn when the eruption started. Again, an unusual amount of planetary gravitational force.

Laki eruption 1783

While a much more extensive investigation of major volcanic events would be useful, a likely pattern is opposition involving at least two of the large outer planets. Fortunately — or perhaps unfortunately for devotees of the idea of imminent human extinction — such a configuration is more than a few years away: 2030-31, when Jupiter will oppose Saturn and Uranus.

Something to look forward to.

<-zoidion->

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Comments»

1. Mary Louise Turner - 02/05/2016

Loved your photo! It looked already framed, and loved this look. Thanks also for the link on climate disruption state preparedness. I see my state of Illinois gets a D. Frankly, it’s better than I thought. Our political crisis concerning a budget would not be funding any energy there. And as always, I enjoyed your insights into history and astrology. Amazing!
Mary Louise 🙂

2. zoidion - 03/05/2016

Thanks! It’s a hard-to-describe experience, walking along the banks of the Big River. Even here, just a few hundred river miles from the source, there’s a LOT of water pushing, pushing. I remember standing at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio, at Cairo, which is below the confluence with the Missouri — that’s a far bigger volume of water in motion.

3. zoidion - 03/05/2016

One more thing, re: Laki eruption 1783: It started when Mars was one degree away from the previous solar eclipse point. (Actually, there was a pair of solar eclipses: at 13 Pisces, then 12 Aries.)


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